The rhythm of yeast

Authors

  • Peter Richard

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    1. VTT Biotechnology, PO Box 1500, 02044 VTT Espoo, Finland
      *Tel.: +358 (9) 465 7190; Fax: +358 (9) 455 2103, E-mail address: peter.richard@vtt.fi
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*Tel.: +358 (9) 465 7190; Fax: +358 (9) 455 2103, E-mail address: peter.richard@vtt.fi

Abstract

Although yeast are unicellular and comparatively simple organisms, they have a sense of time which is not related to reproduction cycles. The glycolytic pathway exhibits oscillatory behaviour, i.e. the metabolite concentrations oscillate around phosphofructokinase. The frequency of these oscillations is about 1 min when using intact cells. Also a yeast cell extract can oscillate, though with a lower frequency. With intact cells the macroscopic oscillations can only be observed when most of the cells oscillate in concert. Transient oscillations can be observed upon simultaneous induction; sustained oscillations require an active synchronisation mechanism. Such an active synchronisation mechanism, which involves acetaldehyde as a signalling compound, operates under certain conditions. How common these oscillations are in the absence of a synchronisation mechanism is an open question. Under aerobic conditions an oscillatory metabolism can also be observed, but with a much lower frequency than the glycolytic oscillations. The frequency is between one and several hours. These oscillations are partly related to the reproductive cycle, i.e. the budding index also oscillates; however, under some conditions they are unrelated to the reproductive cycle, i.e. the budding index is constant. These oscillations also have an active synchronisation mechanism, which involves hydrogen sulfide as a synchronising agent. Oscillations with a frequency of days can be observed with yeast colonies on plates. Here the oscillations have a synchronisation mechanism which uses ammonia as a synchronising agent.

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