Free access
1 October 1997

The freeze-thaw stress response of the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae is growth phase specific and is controlled by nutritional state via the RAS-cyclic AMP signal transduction pathway


The ability of cells to survive freezing and thawing is expected to depend on the physiological conditions experienced prior to freezing. We examined factors affecting yeast cell survival during freeze-thaw stress, including those associated with growth phase, requirement for mitochondrial functions, and prior stress treatment(s), and the role played by relevant signal transduction pathways. The yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae was frozen at -20 degrees C for 2 h (cooling rate, less than 4 degrees C min-1) and thawed on ice for 40 min. Supercooling occurred without reducing cell survival and was followed by freezing. Loss of viability was proportional to the freezing duration, indicating that freezing is the main determinant of freeze-thaw damage. Regardless of the carbon source used, the wild-type strain and an isogenic petite mutant ([rho 0]) showed the same pattern of freeze-thaw tolerance throughout growth, i.e., high resistance during lag phase and low resistance during log phase, indicating that the response to freeze-thaw stress is growth phase specific and not controlled by glucose repression. In addition, respiratory ability and functional mitochondria are necessary to confer full resistance to freeze-thaw stress. Both nitrogen and carbon source starvation led to freeze-thaw tolerance. The use of strains affected in the RAS-cyclic AMP (RAS-cAMP) pathway or supplementation of an rca1 mutant (defective in the cAMP phosphodiesterase gene) with cAMP showed that the freeze-thaw response of yeast is under the control of the RAS-cAMP pathway. Yeast did not adapt to freeze-thaw stress following repeated freeze-thaw treatment with or without a recovery period between freeze-thaw cycles, nor could it adapt following pretreatment by cold shock. However, freeze-thaw tolerance of yeast cells was induced during fermentative and respiratory growth by pretreatment with H2O2, cycloheximide, mild heat shock, or NaCl, indicating that cross protection between freeze-thaw stress and a limited number of other types of stress exists.

Formats available

You can view the full content in the following formats:

Information & Contributors


Published In

cover image Applied and Environmental Microbiology
Applied and Environmental Microbiology
Volume 63Number 10October 1997
Pages: 3818 - 3824
PubMed: 9327544


Published online: 1 October 1997


Request permissions for this article.



J I Park
School of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia.
C M Grant
School of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia.
P V Attfield
School of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia.
I W Dawes
School of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia.

Metrics & Citations


Note: There is a 3- to 4-day delay in article usage, so article usage will not appear immediately after publication.

Citation counts come from the Crossref Cited by service.


If you have the appropriate software installed, you can download article citation data to the citation manager of your choice. Simply select your manager software from the list below and click Download.

View Options

Figures and Media






Share the article link

Share with email

Email a colleague

Share on social media

American Society for Microbiology ("ASM") is committed to maintaining your confidence and trust with respect to the information we collect from you on websites owned and operated by ASM ("ASM Web Sites") and other sources. This Privacy Policy sets forth the information we collect about you, how we use this information and the choices you have about how we use such information.
FIND OUT MORE about the privacy policy