Evaluation of gene modification strategies for the development of low-alcohol-wine Yeasts

C. Varela*, D. R. Kutyna, M. R. Solomon, C. A. Black, A. Borneman, P. A. Henschke, I. S. Pretorius, P. J. Chambers

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

74 Citations (Scopus)


Saccharomyces cerevisiae has evolved a highly efficient strategy for energy generation which maximizes ATP energy production from sugar. This adaptation enables efficient energy generation under anaerobic conditions and limits competition from other microorganisms by producing toxic metabolites, such as ethanol and CO2. Yeast fermentative and flavor capacity forms the biotechnological basis of a wide range of alcohol-containing beverages. Largely as a result of consumer demand for improved flavor, the alcohol content of some beverages like wine has increased. However, a global trend has recently emerged toward lowering the ethanol content of alcoholic beverages. One option for decreasing ethanol concentration is to use yeast strains able to divert some carbon away from ethanol production. In the case of wine, we have generated and evaluated a large number of gene modifications that were predicted, or known, to impact ethanol formation. Using the same yeast genetic background, 41 modifications were assessed. Enhancing glycerol production by increasing expression of the glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase gene, GPD1, was the most efficient strategy to lower ethanol concentration. However, additional modifications were needed to avoid negatively affecting wine quality. Two strains carrying several stable, chromosomally integrated modifications showed significantly lower ethanol production in fermenting grape juice. Strain AWRI2531 was able to decrease ethanol concentrations from 15.6% (vol/vol) to 13.2% (vol/vol), whereas AWRI2532 lowered ethanol content from 15.6% (vol/vol) to 12% (vol/vol) in both Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon juices. Both strains, however, produced high concentrations of acetaldehyde and acetoin, which negatively affect wine flavor. Further modifications of these strains allowed reduction of these metabolites.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6068-6077
Number of pages10
JournalApplied and Environmental Microbiology
Issue number17
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2012
Externally publishedYes


Dive into the research topics of 'Evaluation of gene modification strategies for the development of low-alcohol-wine Yeasts'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this