Ammonia pulses and metabolic oscillations guide yeast colony development

Mol Biol Cell. 2002 Nov;13(11):3901-14. doi: 10.1091/mbc.e01-12-0149.


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.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Amino Acids / metabolism
  • Ammonia / metabolism*
  • Energy Metabolism*
  • Fatty Acids / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Fungal
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Membrane Transport Proteins / chemistry
  • Membrane Transport Proteins / classification
  • Membrane Transport Proteins / genetics
  • Membrane Transport Proteins / metabolism
  • Models, Biological
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Oligonucleotide Array Sequence Analysis
  • Oxidative Phosphorylation
  • Peroxisomes / metabolism
  • Phylogeny
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / genetics
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / metabolism*
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / physiology
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae Proteins / chemistry
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae Proteins / metabolism
  • Sequence Alignment


  • Amino Acids
  • Fatty Acids
  • Membrane Transport Proteins
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae Proteins
  • Ammonia