The early death of two non-Saccharomyces wine strains (H. guilliermondii and H. uvarum) during mixed fermentations with S. cerevisiae was studied under enological growth conditions. Several microvinifications were performed in synthetic grape juice, either with single non-Saccharomyces or with mixed S. cerevisiae/non-Saccharomyces inocula. In all mixed cultures, non-Saccharomyces yeasts grew together with S. cerevisiae during the first 1-3 days (depending on the initial inoculum concentration) and then, suddenly, non-Saccharomyces cells began to die off, regardless of the ethanol concentrations present. Conversely, in both non-Saccharomyces single cultures the number of viable cells remained high (ranging 107-108 CFU ml-1) even when cultures reached significant ethanol concentrations (up to 60-70 g l-1). Thus, at least for these yeast strains, it seems that ethanol is not the main death-inducing factor. Furthermore, mixed cultures performed with different S. cerevisiae/ H. guilliermondii inoculum ratios (3 : 1; 1 : 2; 1 : 10; 1 : 100) revealed that H. guilliermondii death increases for higher inoculum ratios. In order to investigate if the nature of the yeast-yeast interaction was related or not with a cell-cell contact-mediated mechanism, cell-free supernatants obtained from 3 and 6 day-old mixed cultures were inoculated with H. guilliermondii pure cultures. Under these conditions, cells still died and much higher death rates were found for the 6 days than for the 3 day-old supernatants. This strongly indicates that one or more toxic compounds produced by S. cerevisiae triggers the early death of the H. guilliermondii cells in mixed cultures with S. cerevisiae. Finally, although it has not been yet possible to identify the nature of the toxic compounds involved in this phenomenon we must emphasise that the S. cerevisiae strain used in the present work is killer sensitive with respect to the classical killer toxins, K1, K2 and K28, whereas the H. guilliermondii and H. uvarum strains are killer neutral.
- Cellular death
- Mixed cultures
- Non-Saccharomyces wine yeasts
- Toxic compounds
- Yeast-yeast interactions