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Abstract

The specific ethanol productivity with Saccharomyces cerevisiae grown aerobicly in a chemostat was found to be highly dependent on the ratio of intracellular to extracellular potassium concentration through variations in the energy consumption used for maintenance of the concentration gradient of potassium across the cell membrane. The specific ethanol productivity progressively rose from 0 to 20 mmol h−1 g−1 cell dry matter at a growth rate of 0.17 h−1 when the ratio of intracellular to extracellular potassium concentration was increased from 10 to 80. The ethanol production under potassium limited growth conditions was caused neither by a reduction in the specific respiratory activity nor by variations in the potassium content in cell dry matter. Results which strongly that ethanol production under potassium limited growth conditions is brought about by changes in the ratio of pyruvate oxidase to pyruvate decarboxylase activity through changes in the intracellular pyruvate concentration are presented.