Glycerol is a major fermentation product of Saccharomyces cerevisiae that contributes to the sensory character of wine. Diverting sugar to glycerol overproduction and away from ethanol production by overexpressing the glycerol 3-phosphate dehydrogenase gene,GPD2, caused S. cerevisiae to produce more than twice as much acetic acid as the wild-type strain (S288C background) in anaerobic cell culture. Deletion of the aldehyde dehydrogenase gene, ALD6, in wild-type and GPD2 overexpressing strains (GPD2-OP) decreased acetic acid production by three- and four-fold, respectively. In conjunction with reduced acetic acid production, the GPD2-OP ald6Delta strain produced more glycerol and less ethanol than the wild-type. The growth rate and fermentation rate were similar for the modified and wild-type strains, although the fermentation rate for the GPD2 ald6Delta strain was slightly less than that of the other strains from 24h onwards. Analysis of the metabolome of the mutants revealed that genetic modification affected the production of some secondary metabolites of fermentation, including acids, esters, aldehydes and higher alcohols, many of which are flavour-active in wine. Modification of GPD2 and ALD6 expression represents an effective strategy to increase the glycerol and decrease the ethanol concentration during fermentation, and alters the chemical composition of the medium such that, potentially, novel flavour diversity is possible. The implications for the use of these modifications in commercial wine production require further investigation in wine yeast strains.
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