Proline is the predominant amino acid in grape juice, but it is poorly assimilated by wine yeast under the anaerobic conditions typical of most fermentations. Exploiting the abundance of this naturally occurring nitrogen source to overcome the need for nitrogen supplementation and/or the risk of stuck or sluggish fermentations would be most beneficial. This study describes the isolation and evaluation of a novel wine yeast isolate, Q7, obtained through ethyl methanesulfonate (EMS) mutagenesis. The utilisation of proline by the EMS isolate was markedly higher than by the QA23 wild type strain, with approximately 700 and 300 mg/L more consumed under aerobic and self-anaerobic fermentation conditions, respectively, in the presence of preferred nitrogen sources. Higher intracellular proline contents in the wild type strain implied a lesser rate of proline catabolism or incorporation by this strain, but with higher cell viability after freezing treatment. The expression of key genes (PUT1
) involved in proline degradation, transport and repression were compared between the parent strain and the isolate, revealing key differences. The application of these strains for efficient conduct for nitrogen-limited fermentations is a possibility.
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