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Keywords:

  • yeast;
  • wine;
  • systems biology;
  • transcriptome;
  • genomics;
  • biotechnology;
  • stress

Abstract

The yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae is an important industrial microorganism. Nowadays, it is being used as a cell factory for the production of pharmaceuticals such as insulin, although this yeast has long been utilized in the bakery to raise dough, and in the production of alcoholic beverages, fermenting the sugars derived from rice, wheat, barley, corn and grape juice. S. cerevisiae has also been extensively used as a model eukaryotic system. In the last decade, genomic techniques have revealed important features of its molecular biology. For example, DNA array technologies are routinely used for determining gene expression levels in cells under different physiological conditions or environmental stimuli. Laboratory strains of S. cerevisiae are different from wine strains. For instance, laboratory yeasts are unable to completely transform all the sugar in the grape must into ethanol under winemaking conditions. In fact, standard culture conditions are usually very different from winemaking conditions, where multiple stresses occur simultaneously and sequentially throughout the fermentation. The response of wine yeasts to these stimuli differs in some aspects from laboratory strains, as suggested by the increasing number of studies in functional genomics being conducted on wine strains. In this paper we review the most recent applications of post-genomic techniques to understand yeast physiology in the wine industry. We also report recent advances in wine yeast strain improvement and propose a reference framework for integration of genomic information, bioinformatic tools and molecular biology techniques for cellular and metabolic engineering. Finally, we discuss the current state and future perspectives for using ‘modern’ biotechnology in the wine industry. Copyright © 2007 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.