Yeast diversity of sourdoughs and associated metabolic properties and functionalities

Int J Food Microbiol. 2016 Dec 19;239:26-34. doi: 10.1016/j.ijfoodmicro.2016.07.018. Epub 2016 Jul 15.


Together with acidifying lactic acid bacteria, yeasts play a key role in the production process of sourdough, where they are either naturally present or added as a starter culture. Worldwide, a diversity of yeast species is encountered, with Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Candida humilis, Kazachstania exigua, Pichia kudriavzevii, Wickerhamomyces anomalus, and Torulaspora delbrueckii among the most common ones. Sourdough-adapted yeasts are able to withstand the stress conditions encountered during their growth, including nutrient starvation as well as the effects of acidic, oxidative, thermal, and osmotic stresses. From a technological point of view, their metabolism primarily contributes to the leavening and flavour of sourdough products. Besides ethanol and carbon dioxide, yeasts can produce metabolites that specifically affect flavour, such as organic acids, diacetyl, higher alcohols from branched-chain amino acids, and esters derived thereof. Additionally, several yeast strains possess functional properties that can potentially lead to nutritional and safety advantages. These properties encompass the production of vitamins, an improvement of the bioavailability of phenolic compounds, the dephosphorylation of phytic acid, the presence of probiotic potential, and the inhibition of fungi and their mycotoxin production. Strains of diverse species are new candidate functional starter cultures, offering opportunities beyond the conventional use of baker's yeast.

Keywords: Acetate; Bakery; Functional starter cultures; Metabolism; Sourdough; Yeast.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acids, Branched-Chain / metabolism
  • Biodiversity
  • Bread / microbiology*
  • Candida / metabolism
  • Carbon Dioxide / metabolism
  • Ethanol / metabolism
  • Fermentation / physiology*
  • Food Microbiology*
  • Lactobacillaceae / metabolism*
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / metabolism*
  • Yeast, Dried / metabolism*


  • Amino Acids, Branched-Chain
  • Carbon Dioxide
  • Ethanol