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Production of indole by wine-associated microorganisms under oenological conditions

Arevalo-Villena, Maria, Bartowsky, Eveline J., Capone, Dimitra, Sefton, Mark A.
Food microbiology 2010 v.27 no.5 pp. 685-690
wines, winemaking, food microbiology, microorganisms, alcoholic fermentation, off flavors, food contamination, wine yeasts, bacteria, tryptophan, screening, indoles, malolactic fermentation
A high concentration of indole has been linked to 'plastic-like' off-flavour in wines, predominantly in wines produced under sluggish fermentation conditions. The purpose of this study was to determine the ability of yeast and bacteria to form indole and whether tryptophan was required for indole accumulation during winemaking. Wine-associated yeast and bacteria species (Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Saccharomyces bayanus, Candida stellata, Hanseniaspora uvarum, Kluyveromyces thermoloterans, Oenococcus oeni, Lactobacillus lindneri, Pediococcus cerevisiae and Pediococcus parvulus) were screened for their potential to generate indole during alcoholic or malolactic fermentation. Tryptophan was required for the accumulation of indole in chemically defined medium, and all yeast and bacteria fermentations were able to accumulate indole. C. stellata showed the greatest potential for indole formation (1033 μg/L) and among the bacteria, the highest concentration was generated by L. lindneri (370 μg/L). Whether primary fermentation is the principle cause of indole formation remains to be determined. We hypothesise that during an efficient fermentation, indole is removed through catabolic metabolism, but, when a sluggish fermentation arises, non-Saccharomyces species might produce excess indole that is still present by end of fermentation.