Diacetyl control during brewery fermentation via adaptive laboratory engineering of the lager yeast Saccharomyces pastorianus

Brian Gibson*, Virve Vidgren, Gopal Peddinti, Kristoffer Krogerus

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)
247 Downloads (Pure)


Diacetyl contributes to the flavor profile of many fermented products. Its typical buttery flavor is considered as an off flavor in lager-style beers, and its removal has a major impact on time and energy expenditure in breweries. Here, we investigated the possibility of lowering beer diacetyl levels through evolutionary engineering of lager yeast for altered synthesis of α-acetolactate, the precursor of diacetyl. Cells were exposed repeatedly to a sub-lethal level of chlorsulfuron, which inhibits the acetohydroxy acid synthase responsible for α-acetolactate production. Initial screening of 7 adapted isolates showed a lower level of diacetyl during wort fermentation and no apparent negative influence on fermentation rate or alcohol yield. Pilot-scale fermentation was carried out with one isolate and results confirmed the positive effect of chlorsulfuron adaptation. Diacetyl levels were over 60% lower at the end of primary fermentation relative to the non-adapted lager yeast and no significant change in fermentation performance or volatile flavor profile was observed due to the adaptation. Whole-genome sequencing revealed a non-synonymous SNP in the ILV2 gene of the adapted isolate. This mutation is known to confer general tolerance to sulfonylurea compounds, and is the most likely cause of the improved tolerance. Adaptive laboratory evolution appears to be a natural, simple and cost-effective strategy for diacetyl control in brewing.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1103-1112
JournalJournal of Industrial Microbiology and Biotechnology
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2018
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Beer
  • Chlorsulfuron
  • Diacetyl
  • Saccharomyces pastorianus
  • α-Acetolactate

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