Microencapsulation in Yeast Cells

J Microencapsul. Nov-Dec 1998;15(6):761-73. doi: 10.3109/02652049809008259.


A method for encapsulating high concentrations of essential oils into bakers' yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) is described. The process involves mixing an aqueous suspension of yeast and an essential oil, which allows the oil to pass freely through the cell wall and membrane and remain passively within the cell. Oil droplets sequestered within the cell were clearly visible using confocal microscopy. Transmission electron microscopy demonstrated that the cell wall and membrane remain intact during the process. Cells quickly lost viability during the process and it appeared unnecessary for the cells to be viable for the process to occur. Encapsulated oil was recovered from the cells using a water/ethanol extraction procedure and analysed by gas chromatography. No significant differences were noted between encapsulated and unencapsulated oil profiles. The rate of permeation of oil into the yeast cells was found to increase significantly at higher temperatures due to the phase transition of the lipid membrane. The rates at which different essential oils permeated the cell varied considerably due to variations in terpene chemistry. The encapsulation of straight chain hydrocarbons highlighted the effects of molecular size, shape and the presence of hydroxl groups on the process. The process occurs by passive diffusion as a result of hydrophobic flavour components partitioning into the cell membrane and intracellular lipid. This paper briefly reviews the patented literature and reports some of the initial observations of the transport mechanisms involved during the accumulation of essential oils by yeast cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Capsules
  • Chemistry, Pharmaceutical
  • Microscopy, Confocal
  • Oils, Volatile / chemistry*
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae*


  • Capsules
  • Oils, Volatile