When the fermentation of red or white wine gets “stuck”, the yeast that transforms grape sugar into alcohol and CO2 also soon shuts down, and the bacteria that consume the remaining sugar ruins the glass of red wine. or white wine.

Scientists have found a body of biochemical interaction responsible for this persistent problem.

By working on a prion, an abnormally defined protein that can be easily recreated, the body allows the germs in the fermentation of a glass of red or white wine to transform yeast from sugar into other food resources without changing the yeast’s DNA.

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“Advancing this particular procedure really gives our team a clue as to exactly how stagnant fermentations can be prevented,” says yeast geneticist Linda Bisson, a professor in the division of viticulture and oenology at the University of California, Davis.

“Our goal now is to find out the stress of the yeast that basically ignores the germ-initiated flag and doesn’t form the prion, but instead goes on with fermentation.”

She suggests that advancing this particular biochemical process, mentioned in the Tissue journal, could also have ramifications for much better understanding of metabolic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, in people.


Biologists have known for many years that an old organic circuitry, located in the membrane layers of yeast tissues, prevents yeast from using other carbon dioxide resources when sugar is present.

This circuit, known as “sugar suppression,” is particularly robust in Saccharomyces cerevisiae types of yeast, allowing people to use that yeast for useful fermentation processes in winemaking, development, and bread-making. as it activates such effective manipulation of sugar.

In this particular study, the scientists found that the sugar suppression circuit is in some cases disrupted when germs initiate prion replication in the membrane layers of yeast tissues. The prion disturbance causes the yeast to process carbon dioxide resources other than sugar and become less efficient at metabolizing sugar, significantly slowing down fermentation until it basically “stuck”.

“This type of prion-based inheritance works for microorganisms when they have to adapt to ecological problems, but certainly not always completely,” says Bisson.

“Within this particular situation, prion-induced heritable modifications allow yeast to also alter their initial modus operandi if ecological issues need to change once more.”

In this particular study, the scientists show that the process that results in stagnant fermentation benefits both the germs and the yeast. As sugar metabolism declines, the problems in fermenting a glass of red or white wine become much more so for microbial growth, and yeast benefits by gaining the ability to metabolize not only sugar but other resources as well. of carbon dioxide as well, maintaining and extending their life expectancy.


Since this process of interaction between germs and yeast is much more clearly understood, winemakers should be much better able to prevent stagnant fermentations.

“Winemakers may want to change the levels of sulfur dioxide used when poking or even crushing the grapes, in order to kill germs that can easily trigger processes that our team now understand can easily result in stagnant fermentation,” he says. bisson.

“They can also be careful about blending grapes from wineries that are known to have specific microbial stress or may even include yeast stress that has the ability to overpower these cellar germs.”

Additional scientists were added to the study from the Whitehead Principle for Biomedical Research study in Cambridge, Massachusetts; UC Davis; Massachusetts Principle of Technology; as well as Harvard University.

The G. Harold and Leila Y. Mathers Institute, the Howard Hughes Clinical Principle, and the National Institutes of Health and Wellness provided funding for the feature.

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