Yeast Cell Culture


Yeasts are unicellular eukaryotic fungi, Saccharomyces cerevisiae being the most representative species both in laboratory and in industry. In nature, yeasts are abundant in the skin of fruits and grains. In fact, fruit juices or aqueous solutions of cereals provide excellent broths for yeast cultivation and traditional beverages production. The use of yeast by humans to process food and alcoholic beverages is traditionally marked as the primary inventive step of biotechnology, dating back several millennia. At present, these microorganisms have increasing fundamental and industrial importance in scientific, food and pharmaceutical disciplines. The use of yeast as a model organism for laboratory and modern biotechnology has led to the development of synthetic and industrial media for optimal cultivation of these microorganisms in ‘batch’, ‘fed‐batch’ and ‘continuous’ culture systems.

Key Concepts

  • Yeasts are unicellular eukaryotes.
  • Yeasts are grown on solid growth media or in liquid broths.
  • Batch and continuous culture systems are available for small‐ and large‐scale yeast culture.
  • Saccharomyces yeasts are behind traditional procedures making fermented foods and beverages such as bread, beer or wine.
  • Molecular biology tools enable the production of numerous biotechnological products by yeasts.

Keywords: yeasts media; batch culture; continuous culture; yeast biotechnology; baker's yeasts; brewer's yeasts; wine yeasts

Figure 1. Electron microscopy micrograph of Saccharomyces yeast cells. This yeast species divides by budding.
Figure 2. Flor yeast biofilm in the surface of sherry wine. The barrel has a glass front to allow direct observation of wine and flor yeast.
Figure 3. Scheme of a continuous culture system. A computer algorithm regulates flow rate of fresh medium in response to sensed parameters in the yeast culture vessel.


Fidalgo M , Barrales RR , Ibeas JI and Jimenez J (2006) Adaptive evolution by mutations in the FLO11 gene. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 103: 11228–11233.

Goffeau A et al. (1997) The yeast genome directory. Nature 387 (suppl): 1–105.

Jimenez J and Benítez T (1988) Selection of ethanol‐tolerant yeast hybrids in pH‐regulated continuous culture. Applied and Environmental Microbiology 54: 917–922.

Kurtzman CP , Fell JW and Boekhout T (2011) The Yeasts: A Taxonomic Study, 5th edn. Amsterdam: Elsevier.

Liti G , Carter DM , Moses AM , et al. (2009) Population genomics of domestic and wild yeasts. Nature 458: 337–341.

Mattanovich D , Sauer M and Gasser B (2014) Yeast biotechnology: teaching the old dog new tricks. Microbial Cell Factories 13: 34.

Wood V et al. (2002) The genome sequence of Schizosaccharomyces pombe . Nature 415: 871–880.

Further Reading

Berry DR , Russell I and Stewart GC (2011) Yeast Biotechnology. Netherlands: Springer.

Feldman H (ed.) (2012) Yeast Molecular and Cellular Biology. Weinheim: Wiley‐Blackwell.

Guthrie C and Fink GR (eds) (2004) Guide to Yeast Genetics and Molecular and Cell biology. San Diego: Elsevier Academic Press.

Querol A and Feet GH (eds) (2006) Yeast in Foods and Beverages. Berlin: Springer‐Verlag.

Spencer DM and Spencer JFT (1997) Yeasts in Natural and Artificial Habitats. Berlin: Springer‐Verlag.

Contact Editor close
Submit a note to the editor about this article by filling in the form below.

* Required Field

How to Cite close
Garzón, Andrés, and Jimenez, Juan(Feb 2015) Yeast Cell Culture. In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester. [doi: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0002578.pub2]