Characterization of the Viable but Nonculturable (VBNC) State in Saccharomyces cerevisiae

Salma, Mohammad ; Rousseaux, Sandrine ; Sequeira-Le Grand, Anabelle ; Divol, Benoit ; Alexandre, Herve (2013-10-29)

CITATION: Salma, M. et al. 2013. Characterization of the Viable but Nonculturable (VBNC) State in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. PLoS ONE, 8(10):e77600, doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0077600.

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The Viable But Non Culturable (VBNC) state has been thoroughly studied in bacteria. In contrast, it has received much less attention in other microorganisms. However, it has been suggested that various yeast species occurring in wine may enter in VBNC following sulfite stress.In order to provide conclusive evidences for the existence of a VBNC state in yeast, the ability of Saccharomyces cerevisiae to enter into a VBNC state by applying sulfite stress was investigated. Viable populations were monitored by flow cytometry while culturable populations were followed by plating on culture medium. Twenty-four hours after the application of the stress, the comparison between the culturable population and the viable population demonstrated the presence of viable cells that were non culturable. In addition, removal of the stress by increasing the pH of the medium at different time intervals into the VBNC state allowed the VBNC S. cerevisiae cells to “resuscitate”. The similarity between the cell cycle profiles of VBNC cells and cells exiting the VBNC state together with the generation rate of cells exiting VBNC state demonstrated the absence of cellular multiplication during the exit from the VBNC state. This provides evidence of a true VBNC state. To get further insight into the molecular mechanism pertaining to the VBNC state, we studied the involvement of the SSU1 gene, encoding a sulfite pump in S. cerevisiae. The physiological behavior of wild-type S. cerevisiae was compared to those of a recombinant strain overexpressing SSU1 and null Δssu1 mutant. Our results demonstrated that the SSU1 gene is only implicated in the first stages of sulfite resistance but not per se in the VBNC phenotype. Our study clearly demonstrated the existence of an SO2-induced VBNC state in S. cerevisiae and that the stress removal allows the “resuscitation” of VBNC cells during the VBNC state.

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