Isolation of sulfite reductase variants of a commercial wine yeast with significantly reduced hydrogen sulfide production

Antonio G. Cordente, Anthony Heinrich, Isak S. Pretorius, Jan H. Swiegers

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The production of hydrogen sulfide (H2S) during fermentation is a common and significant problem in the global wine industry as it imparts undesirable off-flavors at low concentrations. The yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae plays a crucial role in the production of volatile sulfur compounds in wine. In this respect, H2S is a necessary intermediate in the assimilation of sulfur by yeast through the sulfate reduction sequence with the key enzyme being sulfite reductase. In this study, we used a classical mutagenesis method to develop and isolate a series of strains, derived from a commercial diploid wine yeast (PDM), which showed a drastic reduction in H 2S production in both synthetic and grape juice fermentations. Specific mutations in the MET10 and MET5 genes, which encode the catalytic α- and β-subunits of the sulfite reductase enzyme, respectively, were identified in six of the isolated strains. Fermentations with these strains indicated that, in comparison with the parent strain, H2S production was reduced by 50-99%, depending on the strain. Further analysis of the wines made with the selected strains indicated that basic chemical parameters were similar to the parent strain except for total sulfite production, which was much higher in some of the mutant strains.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)446-459
Number of pages14
JournalFEMS Yeast Research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - May 2009
Externally publishedYes


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