Budding Yeast as a Model Organism to Study the Effects of Age

FEMS Microbiol Rev. 2014 Mar;38(2):300-25. doi: 10.1111/1574-6976.12060. Epub 2014 Feb 26.


Although a budding yeast culture can be propagated eternally, individual yeast cells age and eventually die. The detailed knowledge of this unicellular eukaryotic species as well as the powerful tools developed to study its physiology makes budding yeast an ideal model organism to study the mechanisms involved in aging. Considering both detrimental and positive aspects of age, we review changes occurring during aging both at the whole-cell level and at the intracellular level. The possible mechanisms allowing old cells to produce rejuvenated progeny are described in terms of accumulation and inheritance of aging factors. Based on the dynamic changes associated with age, we distinguish different stages of age: early age, during which changes do not impair cell growth; intermediate age, during which aging factors start to accumulate; and late age, which corresponds to the last divisions before death. For each aging factor, we examine its asymmetric segregation and whether it plays a causal role in aging. Using the example of caloric restriction, we describe how the aging process can be modulated at different levels and how changes in different organelles might interplay with each other. Finally, we discuss the beneficial aspects that might be associated with age.

Keywords: Saccharomyces cerevisiae; age metrics; aging factor; asymmetry; longevity; rejuvenation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aging / physiology*
  • Caloric Restriction
  • Models, Biological*
  • Organelles / physiology
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / cytology
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / genetics
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / metabolism
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / physiology*