Accumulation and cellular distribution of zinc by brewing yeast
This study focused on the interactions between yeast and zinc in relation to beer fermentations. Yeast accumulation of zinc from growth media, including malt wort, was found to be rapid following inoculation with a brewing strain of Saccharomyces carlsbergensis. In contrast, at the onset of the fermentation, the uptake of other divalent cations such as magnesium and calcium was not as pronounced compared with zinc. At the end of fermentation, both growth media and yeast cells became zinc-depleted, the latter due to dilution of zinc to daughter cells following growth and cell division. In addition, in brewing fermenters, the levels of intracellular zinc were much higher in suspended yeast cells compared with cells that sedimented in the yeast cone at the end of fermentation. This may result in impaired yeast performance in subsequent fermentations if yeast is recycled into low zinc media and if the sub-population is composed by zinc-depleted daughter cells. Cellular uptake of zinc was mediated by a metabolism-dependent mechanism as evidenced by impaired uptake following heat shock. Zinc was thereafter localised in the yeast cell vacuole. As industrial fermentation processes may occasionally be suppressed due to zinc deficiencies, the findings of this study are pertinent for several yeast-based industries, especially beer production.