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International Journal of Food Microbiology
Vol. 206, 2015, Pages: 24–38

Brettanomyces yeasts From spoilage organisms to valuable contributors to industrial fermentations

Jan Steenselsb, Luk Daenen, Philippe Malcorps, Guy Derdelinckx, Hubert Verachtert, Kevin J. Verstrepen

Laboratory for Genetics and Genomics, Department of Microbial and Molecular Systems (M2S), Centre of Microbial and Plant Genetics (CMPG), KU Leuven, Kasteelpark Arenberg 22, 3001 Leuven, Belgium.


Ever since the introduction of controlled fermentation processes, alcoholic fermentations and Saccharomyces cerevisiae starter cultures proved to be a match made in heaven. The ability of S. cerevisiae to produce and withstand high ethanol concentrations, its pleasant flavour profile and the absence of health-threatening toxin production are only a few of the features that make it the ideal alcoholic fermentation organism. However, in certain conditions or for certain specific fermentation processes, the physiological boundaries of this species limit its applicability. Therefore, there is currently a strong interest in non-Saccharomyces (or non-conventional) yeasts with peculiar features able to replace or accompany S. cerevisiae in specific industrial fermentations. Brettanomyces (teleomorph: Dekkera), with Brettanomyces bruxellensis as the most commonly encountered representative, is such a yeast. Whilst currently mainly considered a spoilage organism responsible for off-flavour production in wine, cider or dairy products, an increasing number of authors report that in some cases, these yeasts can add beneficial (or at least interesting) aromas that increase the flavour complexity of fermented beverages, such as specialty beers. Moreover, its intriguing physiology, with its exceptional stress tolerance and peculiar carbon- and nitrogen metabolism, holds great potential for the production of bioethanol in continuous fermentors. This review summarizes the most notable metabolic features of Brettanomyces, briefly highlights recent insights in its genetic and genomic characteristics and discusses its applications in industrial fermentation processes, such as the production of beer, wine and bioethanol.

Keywords: -Glycosidase; Viable but nonculturable (VBNC); Custers effect; Bioethanol; Lambic; Brettanomyces anomala.

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