Having more information on the yeast ecology of grapes is important for wine-makers to produce wine with high quality and typical attributes. China is a significant wine-consuming country and is becoming a serious wine-producer, but little has been reported about the yeast ecology of local ecosystems. This study provides the first step towards the exploitation of the yeast wealth in China's vine-growing regions. The aim of this study was to investigate the yeast population density and diversity on three grape varieties cultivated in four representative vine-growing regions of China. Yeast species diversity was evaluated by using polymerase chain reaction-restriction fragment length polymorphism (PCR-RFLP) and sequence analysis of the 5.8S internal transcribed spacer (ITS) ribosomal DNA (rDNA) region of cultivable yeasts. The grapes harbored yeast populations at 10(2)-10(6)CFU/mL, consisting mostly of non-Saccharomyces species. Seventeen different yeast species belonging to eight genera were detected on the grape samples tested, including Hanseniaspora uvarum, Cryptococcus flavescens, Pichia fermentans, Candida zemplinina, Cryptococcus carnescens, Candida inconpicua, Zygosaccharomyces fermentati, Issatchenkia terricola, Candida quercitrusa, Hanseniaspora guilliermondii, Candida bombi, Zygosaccharomyces bailii, Sporidiobolus pararoseus, Cryptococcus magnus, Metschnikowia pulcherrima, Issatchenkia orientalis and Pichia guilliermondii. H. uvarum and C. flavescens were the dominant species present on the grapes. For the first time Sporidiobolus pararoseus was discovered as an inhabitant of the grape ecosystem. The yeast community on grape berries was influenced by the grape chemical composition, vine-variety and vine-growing region. This study is the first to identify the yeast communities associated with grapes in China using molecular methods. The results enrich our knowledge of wine-related microorganisms, and can be used to promote the development of the local wine industry.
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