The Many Uses of the ‘Most Beautiful’ Yeast, Metschikowia pulcherrima

Metschnikowia pulcherrima is a naturally occurring yeast with applications in agriculture, the food industry and biotechnology. Agroscope is investigating this yeast in particular with regard to biocontrol applications in plant protection.

Crop protection applications safeguard food production in the field, ensure the shelf life of agricultural produces, and are indispensable for meeting consumer expectations for unblemished fruit and vegetables.

Yeasts like Metschnikowia pulcherrima are a suitable alternative to plant protection products

Antagonistic yeasts like Metschnikowia pulcherrima are an attractive alternative to conventional plant protection products because they are usually easy to produce and considered safe. M. pulcherrima very strongly inhibits other fungi as well as some bacteria, and suppresses major plant-pathogen microbes. Biocontrol applications are therefore an important reason why researchers concern themselves with M. pulcherrima. At Agroscope, we study M. pulcherrima to establish the foundations for developing an effective and stable plant protection product.

Biocontrol efficacy of yeast in both field and laboratory demonstrated

Our laboratory and field trials document the efficacy of this yeast, but have also highlighted a great potential for optimisation. For example, there is much room to improve the production and shelf life of the most active Metschnikowia cells possible, and the persistence of the yeast on fruit or in flowers is not yet satisfactory. In the ProMet project, which is funded by Bridge Discovery, research groups from three different Agroscope research divisions are working together.

Agroscope project for improving the storage properties of M. pulcherrima

We are searching for ways to extend the lifespan of the yeast, to allow us to produce a product with better storage properties. The biotechnology group is optimising the production of M. pulcherrima in bioreactors and searching for the gentlest possible drying processes. All test products are tested both in laboratory trials and in the field.


  • M. pulcherrima is a globally occurring yeast that is especially common on plant samples.
  • This species has potential for application in oenology, in the production of alternative oils, and as a biological plant protection product.
  • Formulation and persistence on plants are limiting factors for biocontrol applications of M. pulcherrima. These properties are to be improved in an Agroscope project.
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