Diverse conditions support near-zero growth in yeast: Implications for the study of cell lifespan

Jordan Gulli, Emily Cook, Eugene Kroll, Adam Rosebrock, Amy Caudy, Frank Rosenzweig

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Baker’s yeast has a finite lifespan and ages in two ways: a mother cell can only divide so many times (its replicative lifespan), and a non-dividing cell can only live so long (its chronological lifespan). Wild and laboratory yeast strains exhibit natural variation for each type of lifespan, and the genetic basis for this variation has been generalized to other eukaryotes, including met-azoans. To date, yeast chronological lifespan has chiefly been studied in relation to the rate and mode of functional decline among non-dividing cells in nutrient-depleted batch culture. However, this culture method does not accurately capture two major classes of long-lived metazoan cells: cells that are terminally differentiated and metabolically active for periods that approximate animal lifespan (e.g. cardiac myocytes), and cells that are pluripotent and metabolically quiescent (e.g. stem cells). Here, we consider alternative ways of cultivating Saccharomyces cerevisiae so that these different metabolic states can be explored in non-dividing cells: (i) yeast cultured as giant colonies on semi-solid agar, (ii) yeast cultured in retentostats and provided sufficient nutrients to meet minimal energy requirements, and (iii) yeast encapsulated in a semisolid matrix and fed ad libitum in bioreactors. We review the physiology of yeast cultured under each of these conditions, and explore their potential to provide unique insights into determinants of chronological lifespan in the cells of higher eukaryotes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)397-413
Number of pages17
JournalMicrobial Cell
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2019


  • Baker’s yeast
  • Chronological lifespan (CLS)
  • Encapsulation
  • Giant yeast colonies
  • Immobilized cell reactors
  • Near-zero growth
  • Retentostats
  • Starvation


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