The present work reviews and critically discusses the aspects that influence yeast flocculation, namely the chemical characteristics of the medium (pH and the presence of bivalent ions), fermentation conditions (oxygen, sugars, growth temperature and ethanol concentration) and the expression of specific genes such as FLO1, Lg-FLO1, FLO5, FLO8, FLO9 and FLO10. In addition, the metabolic control of loss and onset of flocculation is reviewed and updated. Flocculation has been traditionally used in brewing production as an easy and off-cost cell-broth separation process. The advantages of using flocculent yeast strains in the production of other alcoholic beverages (wine, cachaça and sparkling wine), in the production of renewal fuels (bio-ethanol), in modern biotechnology (production of heterologous proteins) and in environmental applications (bioremediation of heavy metals) are highlighted. Finally, the possibility of aggregation of yeast cells in flocs, as an example of social behaviour (a communitarian strategy for long-time survival or a means of protection against negative environmental conditions), is discussed.
© 2010 The Author. Journal of Applied Microbiology © 2010 The Society for Applied Microbiology.