Assessment of wine non-Saccharomyces yeast strains as promising producers of glutathione

Department of Biotechnology, University of Verona, Italy

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AIM: Glutathione (GSH) is a non-protein thiol naturally present in grape berries and produced by yeasts during fermentation. It has a strong antioxidant activity, thus can be added during winemaking to limit the oxidative phenomena of wine, preserving sensory characteristics and stability, ultimately promoting a healthier product by reducing the need for SO2 addition. A promising alternative approach could be the use of yeast starter cultures high-producers of this compound in situ, during the fermentation process, in substitution of external GSH addition. Since this activity in non-Saccharomyces yeasts is currently poorly investigated, the aim of this research was to evaluate the ability of three strains of non-Saccharomyces (NS) yeasts to produce GSH, both in synthetic media and in fresh grape must.

METHODS: Lachancea thermotolerans SOL13, Metschnikowia sp. FIANO12, and Starmerella bacillaris MALV45 were tested in single or sequential inoculations, with Saccharomyces cerevisiae EC1118, in synthetic grape juice (SGJ) or in Pinot Grigio grape must, under static conditions, or in a medium optimized for GSH production (MGSH) in agitation (200 rpm). GSH concentration was determined using the Glutathione Assay Kit (Sigma-Aldrich). Population dynamics was evaluated by plate count and biomass dry weight, and fermentation kinetics through weight loss measurement.

RESULTS: A variability in GSH production was found among individual strains and growth conditions. Metschnikowia sp. FIANO12 showed the highest intracellular accumulation of GSH when cultivated alone in both synthetic media, and, as expected, higher levels in the optimized MGSH than in SGJ (4.59 vs. 0.19 nmol GSH/mg cells, respectively). In wine, fermentations with S. bacillaris MALV45 had the highest concentration of intracellular GSH, but the lowest content of wine-dissolved GSH. The maximum level of extracellular GSH (21 mg/L) was obtained in the sequential fermentation with L. thermotolerans SOL13, a significant increase compared to the control singly inoculated with S. cerevisiae.

CONCLUSIONS: This study highlights a new potential interesting feature of NS yeasts to positively modify wine composition. The tested native strains, with previously demonstrated interesting oenological traits, showed a good capacity to accumulate GSH and to increase the concentration of this antioxidant compound in wine. Thus, the strategy of multi-starter fermentation can be a valuable tool to achieve a lower input winemaking. Future investigations are needed to assess the long-term stability of wine made from multi-starter fermentations with NS yeasts producers of GSH.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: We thank Nicolò Bersani for laboratory assistance.



Binati, R.L., Lemos Junior, W.J.F., Torriani, S. (2021) Contribution of non‐Saccharomyces yeasts to increase glutathione concentration in wine. Australian Journal of Grape and Wine Research.

Lemos Junior, W.J.F., Binati, R.L., Bersani, N., Torriani, S. (2021) Investigating the glutathione accumulation by non-conventional wine yeasts in optimized growth conditions and multi-starter fermentations.

LWT, 142, 110990.

Published on 06/11/2018
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