Continuous measurement of ethanol production by aerobic yeast suspensions with an enzyme electrode
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An alcohol electrode was constructed which consisted of an oxygen probe onto which alcohol oxidase was immobilized. This enzyme electrode was used, in combination with a reference oxygen electrode, to study the short-term kinetics of alcoholic fermentation by aerobic yeast suspensions after pulsing with glucose. The results demonstrate that this device is an excellent tool in obtaining quantitative data on the short-term expression of the Crabtree effect in yeasts.
Samples from aerobic glucose-limited chemostat cultures of Saccharomyces cerevisiae not producing ethanol, immediately (within 2 min) exhibited aerobic alcoholic fermentation after being pulsed with excess glucose. With chemostat-grown Candida utilis, however, ethanol production was not detectable even at high sugar concentrations. The Crabtree effect in S. cerevisiae was studied in more detail with commercial baker's yeast. Ethanol formation occurred only at initial glucose concentrations exceeding 150 mg·l-1, and the rate of alcoholic fermentation increased with increasing glucose concentrations up to 1,000 mg·l-1 glucose.
Similar experiments with batch cultures of certain ‘non-fermentative’ yeasts revealed that these organisms are capable of alcoholic fermentation. Thus, even under fully aerobic conditions, Hansenula nonfermentans and Candida buffonii produced ethanol after being pulsed with glucose. In C. buffonii ethanol formation was already apparent at very low glucose concentrations (10 mg·l-1) and alcoholic fermentation even proceeded at a higher rate than in S. cerevisiae. With Rhodotorula rubra, however, the rate of ethanol formation was below the detection limit, i.e., less than 0.1 mmol·g cells-1·h-1.
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