FLO gene-dependent phenotypes in industrial wine yeast strains
Most commercial yeast strains are nonflocculent. However, controlled flocculation phenotypes could provide significant benefits to many fermentation-based industries. In nonflocculent laboratory strains, it has been demonstratedthat it is possible to adjust flocculation and adhesion phenotypes to desired specifications by altering expression of the otherwise silent but dominant flocculation (FLO) genes. However, FLO genes are characterized by high allele heterogeneity and are subjected to epigenetic regulation. Extrapolation of data obtained in laboratory strains to industrial strains may therefore not always be applicable. Here, we assess the adhesion phenotypes that are associated with the expression of a chromosomal copy of the FLO1, FLO5, or FLO11 open reading frame in two nonflocculent commercial wine yeast strains, BM45 and VIN13. The chromosomal promoters of these genes were replaced with stationary phase-inducible promoters of the HSP30 and ADH2 genes. Under standard laboratory and wine making conditions, the strategy resulted in expected and stable expression patterns of these genes in both strains. However, the specific impact of the expression of individual FLO genes showed significant differences between the two wine strains and with corresponding phenotypes in laboratory strains. The data suggest that optimization of the flocculation pattern of individual commercial strains will have to be based on a strain-by-strain approach. © 2009 Springer-Verlag.