Springer Nature is making SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 research free. View research | View latest news | Sign up for updates

Effect of ethanol and fatty acids on malolactic activity ofLeuconostoc oenos

  • 177 Accesses

  • 3 Citations


Medium-chain fatty acids (C6 to C12), produced by yeast metabolism during alcoholic fermentation, are known to be inhibitory to lactic acid bacteria. The purpose of this work was to clarify the effect of both ethanol and decanoic and dodecanoic acids on the growth and malolactic activity of aLeuconostoc oenos strain isolated from Portuguese red wine. Ethanol in concentrations up to 12% had no significant effect on malolactic activity but strongly inhibited cell growth. The fatty acids decanoic acid, in concentrations up to 12.5 mg l−1, and, dodecanoic acid up to 2.5 mg l−1 seemed to act as growth factors stimulating also malolactic activity; at higher concentrations they exerted an inhibitory effect. We found clear pH dependence between pH 3.0 and pH 6.0, between decanoic acid concentration and its effect on malolactic activity, indicating that the undissociated molecule is the active form. At pH 3.0 the results can be explained by considering that fatty acids enter the cell as protonated molecules and dissociate in the cytoplasm due to the higher internal pH, leading to increased intracellular hydrogenous concentration. This may be the basis of two different effects that contribute to the observed inhibition: decrease in the intracellular pH and dissipation of the transmembrane proton gradient, thus inhibiting intracellular enzymes and ApH-dependent transport systems.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Desens C, Lonvaud-Funel A (1988) Étude de la constitution lipidique des membranes de bactéries lactiques utilisés en vinification. Conaiss Vigne Vin 22:25–32.

  2. Edwards, CG, Beelman RB (1987) Inhibition of the malolactic bacterium,Leuconostoc oenos (PSU-1), by decanoic acid and subsequent removal of the inhibition by yeast ghosts. Am J Enol Vitic 38:239–242

  3. Eliaz AW, Chapman D, Ewing DF (1976) Phospholipid phase transition. Effects onn-alcohols,n-monocarboxylic acids, phenyl- alkylalcohols and quaternarium ammonium compounds. Biochim Biophys Acta 448:220–230

  4. Freese E, Sheu C, Galliers E (1973) Function of lipophilic acids as antimicrobial food additives. Nature 241:321–325

  5. Galbraith H, Miller TB (1973) Effect of long-chain fatty acids on bacterial respiration and amino acid uptake. J Appl Bacteriol 36:659–664

  6. Ingram LO, Butke T (1984) Effects of alcohols on micro-organisms Adv Microbiol Physiol 25:254–290

  7. Jiménez J, van Uden N (1985) Use of extracellular acidification for the rapid testing of ethanol tolerance in yeasts. Biotechnol Bioeng 27:1596–1598

  8. King SW, Beelman RB (1986) Metabolic interactions betweenSaccharomyces cerevisiae andLeuconostoc oenos in a model grape juice wine system. Am J Enol Vitic 37:53–60

  9. Lafon-Lafourcade S, Geneix C, Ribéreau-Gayon P (1984) Inhibition of alcoholic fermentation of grape must be fatty acids produced by yeasts and their elimination by yeast ghosts. Appl Environ Microbiol 47:1246–1249

  10. Lonvaud-Funel A, Desens C (1988) Inhibition of malolactic fermentation of wines by products of yeast metabolism. J Sci Food Agric 44:183–191

  11. Prashant M and Prasad R (1989) Relationship between ethanol tolerance and fatty acyl composition ofSaccharomyces cerevisiae. Appl Microbiol Biotechnol 30:294–298

  12. Rosa MF, Sá-Correia I (1991) In vivo activation by ethanol of plasma membrane ATPase ofSaccharomyces cerevisiae. Appl Environ Microbiol 57:830–835

  13. Sá-Correia I (1986) Synergistic effects ethanol, octanoic and decanoic acids on the kinetics and activation parameters of thermal dead inSaccharomyces bayanus. Biotechnol Bioeng 28:761–763

  14. Umbreit WW, Burris RH, Stauffer JF (1964) Direct and indirect methods for carbon dioxide. In: Manometric technics. Burgess Publishing Company, Minneapolis, pp 28–45

  15. Viegas CA, Rosa MF, Sá-Correia I, Novais JM (1989) Inhibition of growth by octanoic and decanoic acids produced during ethanolic fermentation. Appl Environ Microbiol 55:21–28

  16. Viegas CA, Sá-Correia I (1991) Activation of plasma membrane ATPase ofSaccharomyces cerevisiae by octanoic acid. J Gen Microbiol 137:645–651

  17. Warth AD (1988) Effect of benzoic acid on growth yield of yeasts differing in their resistance to preservatives. Appl Environ Microbiol 54:2091–2095

  18. Wibowo D, Fleet GH, Lee TH, Eschenbruch RE (1988) Factors affecting the induction of malolactic fermentation in red wines withLeuconostoc oenos. J Appl Bacteriol 64:421–428

Download references

Author information

Correspondence to M. V. San Romão.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Capucho, I., San Romão, M.V. Effect of ethanol and fatty acids on malolactic activity ofLeuconostoc oenos . Appl Microbiol Biotechnol 42, 391–395 (1994). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00902747

Download citation


  • Fermentation
  • Lactic Acid
  • Lactic Acid Bacterium
  • Hydrogenous Concentration
  • Dodecanoic Acid