Osmotic significance of glycerol accumulation in exponentially growing yeasts

Appl Environ Microbiol. 1987 Sep;53(9):2119-23. doi: 10.1128/aem.53.9.2119-2123.1987.


Natural-abundance 13C-nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy has shown glycerol to be the major osmotically significant low-molecular-weight solute in exponentially growing, salt-stressed cells of the yeasts Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Zygosaccharomyces rouxii, and Debaromyces hansenii. Measurement of the intracellular nonosmotic volume (i.e., the fraction of the cell that is osmotically unresponsive) by using the Boyle-van't Hoff relationship (for nonturgid cells, the osmotic volume is directly proportional to the reciprocal of the external osmotic pressure) showed that the nonosmotic volume represented up to 53% of the total cell volume; the highest values were recorded in media with maximum added NaCl. Determinations of intracellular glycerol levels with respect to cell osmotic volumes showed that increases in intracellular glycerol may counterbalance up to 95% of the external osmotic pressure due to added NaCl. The lack of other organic osmotica in 13C-nuclear magnetic resonance spectra indicates that inorganic ions may constitute the remaining component of intracellular osmotic pressure.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Glycerol / metabolism*
  • Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy
  • Microcomputers
  • Osmolar Concentration
  • Osmotic Pressure
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / growth & development
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / metabolism*
  • Saccharomycetales / growth & development
  • Saccharomycetales / metabolism*
  • Sodium Chloride / metabolism


  • Sodium Chloride
  • Glycerol