Flor yeast diversity and dynamics in biologically aged wines

Wine biological aging is characterized by the development of yeast strains that form a biofilm on the wine surface after alcoholic fermentation. These yeasts, known as flor yeasts, form a velum that protects the wine from oxidation during aging. Thirty-nine velums aged from 1 to 6 years were sampled from “Vin jaune” from two different cellars. 

We show for the first time that these velums possess various aspects in term of color and surface aspects. Surprisingly, the heterogeneous velums are mostly composed of one species, S. cerevisiae. Scanning electron microscope observations of these velums revealed unprecedented biofilm structures and various yeast morphologies formed by the sole S. cerevisiae species. Our results highlight that different strains of Saccharomyces are present in these velums. Unexpectedly, in the same velum, flor yeast strain succession occurred during aging, supporting the assumption that environmental changes are responsible for these shifts. Despite numerous sample wine analyses, very few flor yeasts could be isolated from wine following alcoholic fermentation, suggesting that flor yeast development results from the colonization of yeast present in the aging cellar. We analyzed the FLO11 and ICR1 sequence of different S. cerevisiae strains in order to understand how the same strain of S. cerevisiae could form various types of biofilm. Among the strains analyzed, some were heterozygote at the FLO11 locus, while others presented two different alleles of ICR1 (wild type and a 111 bp deletion). We could not find a strong link between strain genotypes and velum characteristics. The same strain in different wines could form a velum having very different characteristics, highlighting a matrix effect.

Authors: Hervé Alexandre, Vanessa David-Vaizant 

AgroSup Dijon, PAM UMR A 02.102, Université Bourgogne Franche-Comté, Dijon, France, 2 Equipe VAlMiS, Institut Universitaire de la Vigne et du Vin, Dijon, France 

Email: rvalex@u-bourgogne.fr 

Keywords: flor yeast, FLO11, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Vin Jaune 

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