Effect of quorum-sensing molecule 2-phenylethanol and ARO genes on Saccharomyces cerevisiae biofilm


Biofilms are a form of microbial community that can be beneficial for industrial fermentation because of their remarkable environmental resistance. However, the mechanism of biofilm formation in Saccharomyces cerevisiae remains to be fully explored, and this may enable improved industrial applications for this organism. Although quorum-sensing (QS) molecules are known to be involved in bacteria biofilm formation, few studies have been undertaken with these in fungi. 2-phenylethanol (2-PE) is considered a QS molecule in S. cerevisiae. Here, we found that exogenous 2-PE could stimulate biofilm formation at low cell concentrations. ARO8p and ARO9p are responsible for the synthesis of 2-PE and were crucial to the formation of biofilm. Deletion of the ARO8 and ARO9 genes reduced the content of 2-PE in the early stage of fermentation, reduced ethanol yield and decreased biofilm formation. The expression of FLOp, which is involved in cell adhesion, and the content of extracellular polysaccharides of mutant strains ΔARO8 and ΔARO9 were also significantly reduced. These findings indicate that the production of 2-PE had a positive effect on biofilm formation in S. cerevisiae, thereby providing further key details for studying the formation of biofilm mechanism in the future.

Key points

• Quorum-sensing molecule 2-PE positively affects biofilm formation in S. cerevisiae.

• 2-PE synthetic genes ARO8 and ARO9 deletion reduced extracellular polysaccharide.

• ARO8 and ARO9 deletion reduced the gene expression of the FLO family.

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This work was supported by the National Key Research and Development Program of China (Grant No. 2018YFA0902200, 2018yfb1501705), the key program of the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 21636003), the Outstanding Youth Foundation of China (Grant No. SBK2017010373), the Program for Changjiang Scholars and Innovative Research Team in University (IRT_14R28), Jiangsu National Synergetic Innovation Center for Advanced Materials (SICAM), the Technology Support Program of Jiangsu (Grant No. BE2014715) and the Priority Academic Program Development of Jiangsu Higher Education Institutions (PAPD).

Author information




DZ participated in the design of the study, constructed the plasmids and strains, participated in the fermentation experiments, drafted the manuscript and revised the manuscript. FW, YY, SD, TC, WS, CL and BY participated in the fermentation experiments and biofilm characterization experiment. YC, HY and DL participated in the design of the study. HY conceived of the study and participated in its design. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

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Correspondence to Dong Liu or Yong Chen.

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Zhang, D., Wang, F., Yu, Y. et al. Effect of quorum-sensing molecule 2-phenylethanol and ARO genes on Saccharomyces cerevisiae biofilm. Appl Microbiol Biotechnol 105, 3635–3648 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00253-021-11280-4

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  • Quorum-sensing
  • 2-phenylethanol
  • Biofilm
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae
  • Ehrlich pathway
  • ARO8
  • ARO9