Applied and Environmental Microbiology vol:70 issue:6 pages:3377-3382
Previous observations that aquaporin overexpression increases the freeze tolerance of baker's yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) without negatively affecting the growth or fermentation characteristics held promise for the development of commercial baker's yeast strains used in frozen dough applications. In this study we found that overexpression of the aquaporin-encoding genes AQY1-1 and AQY2-1 improves the freeze tolerance of industrial strain AT25, but only in small doughs under laboratory conditions and not in large doughs under industrial conditions. We found that the difference in the freezing rate is apparently responsible for the difference in the results. We tested six different cooling rates and found that at high cooling rates aquaporin overexpression significantly improved the survival of yeast cells, while at low cooling rates there was no significant effect. Differences in the cultivation conditions and in the thawing rate did not influence the freeze tolerance under the conditions tested. Survival after freezing is determined mainly by two factors, cellular dehydration and intracellular ice crystal formation, which depend in an inverse manner on the cooling velocity. In accordance with this so-called two-factor hypothesis of freezing injury, we suggest that water permeability is limiting, and therefore that aquaporin function is advantageous, only under rapid freezing conditions. If this hypothesis is correct, then aquaporin overexpression is not expected to affect the leavening capacity of yeast cells in large, industrial frozen doughs, which do not freeze rapidly. Our results imply that aquaporin-overexpressing strains have less potential for use in frozen doughs than originally thought.