Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology

, Volume 88, Issue 6, pp 1321–1331 | Cite as

Flocculation gene variability in industrial brewer’s yeast strains

  • Sebastiaan E. Van Mulders
  • Maarten Ghequire
  • Luk Daenen
  • Pieter J. Verbelen
  • Kevin J. Verstrepen
  • Freddy R. Delvaux
Applied Genetics and Molecular Biotechnology


The brewer’s yeast genome encodes a ‘Flo’ flocculin family responsible for flocculation. Controlled floc formation or flocculation at the end of fermentation is of great importance in the brewing industry since it is a cost-effective and environmental-friendly technique to separate yeast cells from the final beer. FLO genes have the notable capacity to evolve and diverge many times faster than other genes. In actual practice, this genetic variability may directly alter the flocculin structure, which in turn may affect the flocculation onset and/or strength in an uncontrolled manner. Here, 16 ale and lager yeast strains from different breweries, one laboratory Saccharomyces cerevisiae and one reference Saccharomyces pastorianus strain, with divergent flocculation strengths, were selected and screened for characteristic FLO gene sequences. Most of the strains could be distinguished by a typical pattern of these FLO gene markers. The FLO1 and FLO10 markers were only present in five out of the 18 yeast strains, while the FLO9 marker was ubiquitous in all the tested strains. Surprisingly, three strongly flocculating ale yeast strains in this screening also share a typical ‘lager’ yeast FLO gene marker. Further analysis revealed that a complete Lg-FLO1 allele was present in these ale yeasts. Taken together, this explicit genetic variation between flocculation genes hampers attempts to understand and control the flocculation behavior in industrial brewer’s yeasts.


Flocculation Saccharomyces cerevisiae Adhesin Tandem repeats Brewery fermentations 



SVM would like to thank Lynn Stichelbout for the excellent assistance with the interdelta analysis. Financial support from the Institute for the Promotion of Innovation through Science and Technology in Flanders (IWT-Vlaanderen, Belgium) and the Belgian Federal Science Policy Office and European Space Agency PRODEX program is acknowledged. KJV also acknowledges support from National Institutes of Health grant P50GM068763, Human Frontier Science Program RGY79/2007, European Research Council Young Investigator grant 241426, VIB, K.U.Leuven, the Fonds Voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek–Vlaanderen (FWO)-Odysseus program, and the AB InBev Baillet-Latour foundation.

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sebastiaan E. Van Mulders
    • 1
  • Maarten Ghequire
    • 1
  • Luk Daenen
    • 1
  • Pieter J. Verbelen
    • 1
  • Kevin J. Verstrepen
    • 2
  • Freddy R. Delvaux
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre for Malting and Brewing Science, Department of Microbial and Molecular Systems, Faculty of Bioscience EngineeringKatholieke Universiteit LeuvenLeuvenBelgium
  2. 2.Department of Microbial and Molecular Systems, and VIB Laboratory of Systems Biology, Centre of Microbial and Plant Genetics, CMPG–G & GKatholieke Universiteit LeuvenLeuvenBelgium

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