Yeast Fermentation as a Model for Studying Enzymatic Activity

David McDonaldDuke University
Porche' Spenceplspence@nccu.eduNorth Carolina Central University
Lauren CroweDuke University

Project Location


Student Audience

Introductory, Major

Scientific Domain

  • Biochemistry

Nature of the Research

  • Wet lab/bench research
  • Basic research

Core Concepts

  • Pathways and Transformation of Energy: Biological systems grow and change by processes based on chemical transformation pathways and are governed by the laws of thermodynamics.

Core Competencies

  • Applying the process of science
  • Communicating and collaborating

Learning Objectives

  • Calculate concentrations and make up solutions
  • Describe the function of an enzyme with regard to metabolism
  • Determine Yeast Viability
  • Collect, compile, organize, analyze experimental data
  • Construct a mini-poster detailing the setup and results


In our General Biology II (cell structure and biological molecules) CURE lab, students use wild-derived and industrial yeast strains to study fermentation.  We investigate yeast fermentation of various substrates (artificial sweeteners, natural sweeteners, fruit purees, fruit juice, etc.).  Students design experiments in which they explore how different growth conditions can affect the enzymatic reactions that take place during fermentation such as temperature and pH.  These projects have real world applications in commercial food production and microbiology, giving students a practical way to apply the concepts of enzymes and how enzyme activity can be altered by changes in temperature, pH, carbon source, etc.

McDonald, David Duke University
Spence, Porche' North Carolina Central University
Crowe, Lauren Duke University