Anaerobiosis revisited: growth of Saccharomyces cerevisiae under extremely low oxygen availability.
Review article, 2018

The budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae plays an important role in biotechnological applications, ranging from fuel ethanol to recombinant protein production. It is also a model organism for studies on cell physiology and genetic regulation. Its ability to grow under anaerobic conditions is of interest in many industrial applications. Unlike industrial bioreactors with their low surface area relative to volume, ensuring a complete anaerobic atmosphere during microbial cultivations in the laboratory is rather difficult. Tiny amounts of O2 that enter the system can vastly influence product yields and microbial physiology. A common procedure in the laboratory is to sparge the culture vessel with ultrapure N2 gas; together with the use of butyl rubber stoppers and norprene tubing, O2 diffusion into the system can be strongly minimized. With insights from some studies conducted in our laboratory, we explore the question 'how anaerobic is anaerobiosis?'. We briefly discuss the role of O2 in non-respiratory pathways in S. cerevisiae and provide a systematic survey of the attempts made thus far to cultivate yeast under anaerobic conditions. We conclude that very few data exist on the physiology of S. cerevisiae under anaerobiosis in the absence of the anaerobic growth factors ergosterol and unsaturated fatty acids. Anaerobicity should be treated as a relative condition since complete anaerobiosis is hardly achievable in the laboratory. Ideally, researchers should provide all the details of their anaerobic set-up, to ensure reproducibility of results among different laboratories.

Saccharomyces cerevisiae

Chemostat cultivation



Anaerobic growth factors


BLV da Costa

University of Sao Paulo (USP)

State University of Campinas

T. O. Basso

University of Sao Paulo (USP)

Vijayendran Raghavendran

Chalmers, Biology and Biological Engineering, Industrial Biotechnology

State University of Campinas

A. K. Gombert

State University of Campinas

Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology

0175-7598 (ISSN) 1432-0614 (eISSN)

Vol. 102 5 2101-2116

Subject Categories

Biochemistry and Molecular Biology


Water Treatment



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