Discrete additions of oxygen play a critical role in alcoholic fermentation. However, few studies have quantitated the fate of dissolved oxygen and its impact on wine yeast cell physiology under enological conditions. We simulated the range of dissolved oxygen concentrations that occur after a pump-over during the winemaking process by sparging nitrogen-limited continuous cultures with oxygen-nitrogen gaseous mixtures. When the dissolved oxygen concentration increased from 1.2 to 2.7 ?M, yeast cells changed from a fully fermentative to a mixed respirofermentative metabolism. This transition is characterized by a switch in the operation of the tricarboxylic acid cycle (TCA) and an activation of NADH shuttling from the cytosol to mitochondria. Nevertheless, fermentative ethanol production remained the major cytosolic NADH sink under all oxygen conditions, suggesting that the limitation of mitochondrial NADH reoxidation is the major cause of the Crabtree effect. This is reinforced by the induction of several key respiratory genes by oxygen, despite the high sugar concentration, indicating that oxygen overrides glucose repression. Genes associated with other processes, such as proline uptake, cell wall remodeling, and oxidative stress, were also significantly affected by oxygen. The results of this study indicate that respiration is responsible for a substantial part of the oxygen response in yeast cells during alcoholic fermentation. This information will facilitate the development of temporal oxygen addition strategies to optimize yeast performance in industrial fermentations.
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