Interactions between yeasts and zinc
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Zinc is an essential trace element in biological systems. For example, it acts as a cellular membrane stabiliser, plays a critical role in gene expression and genome modification and activates nearly 300 enzymes, including alcohol dehydrogenase. The present chapter will be focused on the influence of zinc on cell physiology of industrial yeast strains of Saccharomyces cerevisiae, with special regard to the uptake and subsequent utilisation of this metal. Zinc uptake by yeast is metabolism-dependent, with most of the available zinc translocated very quickly into the vacuole. At cell division, zinc is distributed from mother to daughter cells and this effectively lowers the individual cellular zinc concentration, which may become zinc depleted at the onset of the fermentation. Zinc influences yeast fermentative performance and examples will be provided relating to brewing and wine fermentations. Industrial yeasts are subjected to several stresses that may impair fermentation performance. Such stresses may also impact on yeast cell zinc homeostasis. This chapter will discuss the practical implications for the correct management of zinc bioavailability for yeast-based biotechnologies aimed at improving yeast growth, viability, fermentation performance and resistance to environmental stresses.