Vinos10: Targeted yeast development for a balanced reduction of alcohol in wine

Jordi Tronchoni León is a researcher in Biotechnology, developing his work in the area of wine yeasts. He obtained his doctorate in 2012 from the University of Valencia and has spent several stays in the United Kingdom and Sweden. After a first post-doctoral period in La Rioja, he moved to Nice (France), to the prestigious centre national de la recherche scientifique (National Scientific Research Centre – CNRS) where he continued his studies in evolution. Since 2014 he has been working at the Institute of Vine and Wine Sciences of the CSIC, where he has been involved in different projects both in Spain and abroad, extending the study of wine yeasts to the species of non-Saccharomyces of biotechnological interest found at the beginning of wine fermentation. Since september 2018 and for almost two years, he was a ComFuturo researcher at the Institute of Vine and Wine Sciences of the CSIC, where he carried out his ComFuturo project “Targeted yeast evolution for balanced wine alcohol reduction”.

Project Summary

In recent years, we have seen how consumers are increasingly concerned about the impact of food on their health. In a market as important as wine (this industry accounts for 1% of the country’s GDP), there is still no product that can satisfy this consumer demand for healthier, lower alcoholic beverages.

This project aims to reduce current alcohol content by one third (from 15% to 10%) through a strategy that produces balanced and organoleptically attractive wines. At present, the different technologies are based on dealcoholisation processes, which, although successful in other alcoholic beverages, are not very successful in wine. The strategy proposed in this project is not based on the dealcoholisation of the final product, but on the production of a wine with lower alcohol content.

In wine production, yeasts are responsible for transforming the sugars in the grape must, producing alcohol. As they have been used for this purpose for hundreds of years, they are perfectly adapted to this process and their high efficiency (and their adaptation mechanisms) means that they produce as much ethanol as they can. This project seeks to re-domesticate yeasts by leading them to decrease ethanol production and thus alcohol content.

The cultivation conditions necessary to carry out these targeted domestications (in biotechnology known as targeted development), will be obtained by modelling metabolic pathways. In order to cover as much of the evolutionary landscape as possible, the evolutions will be multiplied on a large scale using a technique known as massive parallel evolution.

The three major milestones of the project are: to produce yeasts capable of making wines with lower alcohol content; to transfer the technology so that it can be applied to all yeasts; and to better understand the molecular mechanisms behind this metabolic redirection.

Application: The wine industry represents 1% of the country’s GDP and despite growing demand, there is still no low-alcohol wine that satisfies consumers. Using the latest biotechnology and directed evolution techniques, this project aims to obtain yeasts capable of producing wines with lower alcohol content, more in line with the new eating habits of today’s society.

Scientific output derived from the ComFuturo Vinos10 Project

Scientific articles  

A. Mencher; P. Morales; E. Valero; J. Tronchoni; K.R. Patil; R. González (2020). Proteomic characterization of extracellular vesicles produced by several wine yeast species.MICROBIAL BIOTECHNOLOGY. DOI:10.1111/1751-7915.13614


E. Valero; J. Tronchoni; R, Gonzalez; P. Morales (2019). Autophagy is required for sulphur dioxide tolerance in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. MICROBIAL BIOTECHNOLOGY. DOI:10.1111/1751-7915.13495


R. Gonzalez; Tronchoni; A. Mencher; J.A. Curiel; A.J. Rodrigues; L. López-Berges; … & A. Omarini. (2018). Low phenotypic penetrance and technological impact of yeast [GAR+] prion-like elements on winemaking. FRONTIERS IN MICROBIOLOGY, 9, 3311. DOI: 10.3389/fmicb.2018.03311


Book chapters

I. Vigentini; R. Gonzalez; J. Tronchoni (2019). Genetic Improvement of Wine Yeasts. YEASTS IN THE PRODUCTION OF WINE. SPRINGER NATURE. Patrizia Romano et al. (Eds)


Works presented at conferences 

A. Mencher; E. Valero; P. Morales; J. Tronchoni; K. R. Patil; R. Gonzalez. A morphological, proteomic and physiological characterization of yeast extracellular vesicles in an oenological context. 7th Conference on Physiology of yeasts & filamentous fungi (PYFF 2019). Oral presentation. Milan, Italy. 24/06/2019-27/06/2019


J. Rodrigues; K. R. Patil; S. Andrejev; P. Jouhten; P. Morales; J. Tronchoni; R. Gonzalez. Model-guided construction of recombinant S. cerevisiae strains showing lower acetate yield under aerobic conditions. 7th Conference on Physiology of yeasts & filamentous fungi (PYFF 2019). Poster. Milan, Italy. 24/06/2019-27/06/2019


P. Morales; E. Augès; C. Juez; L. López-Berges; J. Tronchoni; A.M. Guindal; J. S. Roodink; R. Gonzalez. Directed evolution of S. cerevisiae to reduce acetic acid production during aerobic fermentation of grape must. 7th Conference on Physiology of yeasts & filamentous fungi (PYFF 2019). Poster. Milan, Italy. 24/06/201927/06/2019


J. Tronchoni. Utilizando herramientas NGS para descifrar las levaduras enológicas. III Encuentro Nacional de Agrogenómica. Invited oral presentation. Valencia, Spain. 16/05/2019


J. Tronchoni. Influencia del manejo del suelo sobre el microbioma del suelo, la uva y el mosto y su efecto sobre la calidad del vino. XLVII Foro INIA de Colaboración Público-Privada “Microbiota y su relación con los Sistemas Alimentarios”. Invited oral presentation. INIA. Madrid, Spain. 11/04/2019


J. Tronchoni; E. Augès; C. Juez; L. López-Berges; P. Morales; R, Gonzalez. Yeasts with low acetic acid production for healthier wines. Experimental Approaches to Evolution and Ecology Using Yeast and Other Model Systems. Poster. EMBL Heidelberg, Germany. 17/10/2018-20/10/2018


J. Tronchoni; A. Mencher; J.A. Curiel; P. Morales; R, Gonzalez. La interacción con M. pulcherrima promueve una respuesta transcripcional que recuerda al efecto Crabtree en S. cerevisiae. XXI Congreso Nacional SEM de Microbiología de Alimentos (SEM 2018). Oral presentation. Tarragona, Spain. 17/09/2018-21/09/2018


A. Mencher; J.A. Curiel; P. Morales; J. Tronchoni; A.J. Rodrigues; K. Patil; P. Jouhten; R. Gonzalez. Impacto de priones tipo [GAR+] sobre levaduras. XXI Congreso Nacional SEM de Microbiología de Alimentos (SEM 2018). Poster. Tarragona, Spain. 17/09/2017-21/09/2018


Registered patent applications

“A Saccharomyces cerevisiae strain and its use for production of reduced-alcohol wine”. CSIC