Yeast cells are often employed in industrial fermentation processes for their ability to efficiently convert relatively high concentrations of sugars into ethanol and carbon dioxide. Additionally, fermenting yeast cells produce a wide range of other compounds, including various higher alcohols, carbonyl compounds, phenolic compounds, fatty acid derivatives and sulfur compounds. Interestingly, many of these secondary metabolites are volatile and have pungent aromas that are often vital for product quality. In this review, we summarize the different biochemical pathways underlying aroma production in yeast as well as the relevance of these compounds for industrial applications and the factors that influence their production during fermentation. Additionally, we discuss the different physiological and ecological roles of aroma-active metabolites, including recent findings that point at their role as signaling molecules and attractants for insect vectors.
This review explores the biochemical pathways leading to production of a wide array of aroma compounds, the various industrial applications that have been developed around use of aroma compounds, as well as the newly uncovered physiological and ecological roles the various compounds may play.