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Study of genes related with the ethyl carbamate precursors in wine lactic acid bacteria

Isabel Araque, Cristina Reguant, Albert Bordons; Departament de Bioquímica i Biotecnologia, Universitat Rovira i Virgili, Tarragona, Spain

Wine, like most fermented foods and beverages, can contain trace amounts of ethyl carbamate (EC), which has been described as a potential carcinogenic compound. 

It can be produced from the reaction of ethanol with urea produced by yeasts, but also from the reaction of citrulline with ethanol. Citrulline can be generated by lactic acid bacteria (LAB) from arginine degradation by the arginine deiminase (ADI) pathway. So, this is one of the possibly negative aspects of LAB for the consumer health, in contrast with the known main positive role of LAB in wine, the malolactic fermentation (MLF).

Although the amounts of EC in wine are usually negligible, over the last few years there has been a slight but steady increase, as climate change has increased temperatures and alcohol levels have become proportionately higher, both of which favor EC formation.

Genes encoding the three enzymes of ADI pathway in most LAB are clustered in an operon that includes the arcD gene for arginine/ornithine transporter. In this study, the ability to generate EC precursors by the ADI pathway was evaluated in several strains of wine LAB. 

Published on 04/03/2015
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