A story about glycerol

John E. Hallsworth

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


A story about glycerol John E. Hallsworth Institute for Global Food Security, School of Biological Sciences, Queen’s University Belfast, 97 Lisburn Road, Belfast, BT9 7BL, UK Glycerol is a chemically simple and yet biologically complex substance which is produced by many microbes (especially yeasts and fungi) as a compatible solute. It can reduce intracellular water activity and thereby regulates cell turgor, and can also protect macromolecular systems against various types of stress. However, at high concentrations glycerol can itself become a stressor. A series of studies were carried out, using fungal xerophiles as model systems, to (i) unravel the various stress mechanisms by which glycerol can inhibit fungi, and determine whether glycerol can also (ii) enhance biotic activity of fungi and (iii) enable fungal germination and hyphal growth beyond the established 0.605 water-activity limit for life. At high concentrations, glycerol reduces water activity to beyond the known limit for xerophile growth and metabolism and, at molar concentrations, also acts as a chaotropic stressor; this polyol does, however, enhance the rate of fungal germination – and reduce the water activity minimum for germination and growth – of extreme fungal xerophiles to < 0.590 water activity. The findings were considered in context of key questions relating to terrestrial ecosystems, biotechnology, and the astrobiology field.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2017
EventThe Second International Symposium on Fungal Stress (2017): The Second International Symposium on Fungal Stress - Universidade Federal de Goiás, Goiânia, Brazil
Duration: 08 May 201712 Dec 2017


ConferenceThe Second International Symposium on Fungal Stress (2017)
Abbreviated titleISFUS-2017


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