Degradation of RNA during the autolysis of Saccharomyces cerevisiae produces predominantly ribonucleotides

Jian Zhao, Graham Fleet

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    29 Citations (Scopus)


    Autolytic degradation of yeast RNA occurs in many foods and beverages and can impact on the sensory quality of the product, but the resulting complex mixture of nucleotides, nucleosides and nucleobases has not been properly characterised. In this study, yeast autolysis was induced by incubating cell suspensions of Saccharomyces cerevisiae at 30'60 °C (pH 7.0), and at pH 4.0'7.0 (40 °C) for 10'14 days, and the RNA degradation products formed during the process were determined by reversed-phase HPLC. Up to 95% of cell RNA was degraded, with consequent leakage into the extracellular environment of mainly 3'-, 5'- and 2'-ribonucleotides, and lesser amounts of polynucleotides, ribonucleosides and nucleobases. The rate of RNA degradation and the composition of the breakdown products varied with temperature and pH. RNA degradation was fastest at 50 °C (pH 7.0). Autolysis at lower temperatures (30 °C and 40 °C) and at pH 5.0 and 6.0 favoured the formation of 3'-nucleotides, whereas autolysis at 40 °C and 50 °C (pH 7.0) favoured 5'- and 2'-nucleotides. The best conditions for the formation of the two flavour-enhancing nucleotides, 5'-AMP and 5'-GMP, were 50 °C (pH 7.0) and pH 4.0 (40 °C), respectively.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)415-423
    Number of pages9
    JournalJournal of Industrial Microbiology and Biotechnology
    Issue number9
    Publication statusPublished - 2005


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