Energy Metabolism by the Yeast Cell

  • Graham G. Stewart
Part of the The Yeast Handbook book series (YEASTHDB)


Most (not all) genera and species of yeast can ferment sugars to ethanol anaerobically. This is why research on yeast fermentation has (and still does) receive extensive financial support in many countries. The question of ethanol metabolism and related areas is the most important in this context. Studies on glycolysis (particularly with yeast) rival their significance, both scientifically and economically, with the discovery of penicillin and subsequent studies to develop it as the first antibiotic. The elucidation of the glycolytic pathway from glucose into pyruvate and subsequently ethanol (or lactic acid) involves a number of enzyme-catalysed stages. Although studies on the glycolytic pathway began with Pasteur in the mid-nineteenth century and then Buchner with cell-free extracts, during the twentieth century, this research was central for generating major advances in biochemistry together with massive economic applications. Glycogen is a major intracellular carbohydrate in yeast cell together with the disaccharide trehalose. Glycogen forms an energy reserve that can be rapidly mobilized to meet a sudden requirement for glucose, usually early in the fermentation/growth cycles. Trehalose plays a protective role against stresses such as osmotic pressure, nutrient depletion and starvation. It improves cell resistance to high and low temperatures, concentrated wort, elevated ethanol concentrations, etc. The Citric Acid Cycle is also known as the Tricarboxylic Acid (TCA) Cycle and/or the Krebs cycle. It is a series of reactions used by aerobic organisms (including yeast) to generate energy through the oxidation of acetyl-CoA derived from carbohydrates, fats and proteins into carbon dioxide and chemical energy. Also, the cycle provides precursors for certain amino acids as well as the reducing agent NADH, which is used for numerous other biochemical reactions (details in Chap.  7).


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Graham G. Stewart
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.International Centre for Brewing and DistillingHeriot Watt UniversityEdinburghUK
  2. 2.GGStewart AssociatesCardiff, WalesUK

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