Impact of L. thermotolerans strain and lactic acid concentration on O. oeni and MLF in wine

by | Jun 17, 2021 | South Africa Wine Scan

The yeast Lachancea thermotolerans can produce lactic acid during alcoholic fermentation (AF) and thereby acidify wines with insufficient acidity. However, little is known about the impact of L. thermotolerans on Oenococcus oeni, the primary lactic acid bacterium used in malolactic fermentation (MLF). This study explored the impact of sequential cultures of L. thermotolerans and Saccharomyces cerevisiae on MLF performance in white and red wines.


Four L. thermotolerans strains were tested in Sauvignon blanc with sequential S. cerevisiae inoculation, compared to an S. cerevisiae control and the initially un-inoculated treatments. The L. thermotolerans wines showed large differences in acidification, and progression of MLF depended on lactic acid production, even at controlled pH. The highest and lowest lactic acid producing strains were tested further in Merlot fermentations with both co-inoculated and sequentially inoculated O. oeni. The low lactic acid producing strain enabled successful MLF, even when this failed in the S. cerevisiae treatment, with dramatically quicker malic acid depletion in O. oeni co-inoculation than in sequential inoculation. In contrast, a high lactic acid producing strain inhibited MLF irrespective of the O. oeni inoculation strategy. In a follow-up experiment, increasing concentrations of exogenously added lactic acid slowed MLF and reduced O. oeni growth across different matrices, with 6 g/L of lactic acid completely inhibiting MLF.

Significance of the study:

The results confirm the inhibitory effect of lactic acid on O. oeni while highlighting the potential of some L. thermotolerans strains to promote MLF and the others to inhibit it.


Snyder, E. C., Jiranek, V., & Hranilovic, A. (2021). Impact of Lachancea thermotolerans strain and lactic acid concentration on Oenococcus oeni and malolactic fermentation in wine. OENO One55(2), 365–380. Retrieved from

For detail on which commercial L. thermotolerans starter cultures were used in the study winemakers are referred to the published scientific article, which is open access. 

This abstract has been reproduced in its original form with headings added as permitted by the Creative Commons Attribution License of Oeno One:

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