The trehalose content in laboratory and industrial baker's yeast is widely believed to be a major determinant of stress resistance. Fresh and dried baker's yeast is cultured to obtain a trehalose content of more than 10% of the dry weight. Initiation of fermentation, e.g., during dough preparation, is associated with a rapid loss of stress resistance and a rapid mobilization of trehalose. Using specific Saccharomyces cerevisiae mutants affected in trehalose metabolism, we confirm the correlation between trehalose content and stress resistance but only in the absence of fermentation. We demonstrate that both phenomena can be dissociated clearly once the cells initiate fermentation. This was accomplished both for cells with moderate trehalose levels grown under laboratory conditions and for cells with trehalose contents higher than 10% obtained under pilot-scale conditions. Retention of a high trehalose level during fermentation also does not prevent the loss of fermentation capacity during preparation of frozen doughs. Although higher trehalose levels are always correlated with higher stress resistance before the addition of fermentable sugar, our results show that the initiation of fermentation causes the disappearance of any other factor(s) required for the maintenance of stress resistance, even in the presence of a high trehalose content.
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