On solid substrate, growing yeast colonies alternately acidify and alkalinize the medium. Using morphological, cytochemical, genetic, and DNA microarray approaches, we characterized six temporal steps in the "acid-to-alkali" colony transition. This transition is connected with the production of volatile ammonia acting as starvation signal between colonies. We present evidence that the three membrane proteins Ato1p, Ato2p, and Ato3p, members of the YaaH family, are involved in ammonia production in Saccharomyces cerevisiae colonies. The acid-to-alkali transition is connected with decrease of mitochondrial oxidative catabolism and by peroxisome activation, which in parallel with activation of biosynthetic pathways contribute to decrease the general stress level in colonies. These metabolic features characterize a novel survival strategy used by yeast under starvation conditions prevalent in nature.