The aim of this research was to genetically and technologically characterize Candida zemplinina strains isolated from different sources of enological interest. Phenotypic and genotypic subtyping, as well as oenological characterization, were carried out on 36 C. zemplinina isolates collected from grapes, must and wines of different regions of Italy. RAPD-PCR fingerprinting of the isolates revealed a high genetic heterogeneity. At physiological level, yeasts were grouped into different clusters on the basis of sugar and ethanol tolerance. Common enological characteristics were examined and strains resulted to be highly fructophilic while presenting low ethanol and acetic acid production, high glycerol production, capacity to metabolize malic acid and slower fermentation kinetics when compared to Saccharomyces cerevisiae. The genetic and phenotypic intraspecies biodiversity of C. zemplinina gave useful data to understand its potential technological role in winemaking. This research represents a first step for the selection of C. zemplinina strains to be used as a starter in co-culture or in sequential inoculation with S. cerevisiae to improve the complexity and to enhance the particular characteristic of wines.
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