Vernier Software and Technology
Vernier Software & Technology

Sugar Fermentation

Figure from experiment 12B from Biology with Vernier


Yeast are able to metabolize some foods, but not others. In order for an organism to make use of a potential source of food, it must be capable of transporting the food into its cells. It must also have the proper enzymes capable of breaking the food’s chemical bonds in a useful way. Sugars are vital to all living organisms. Yeast are capable of using some, but not all sugars as a food source. Yeast can metabolize sugar in two ways, aerobically, with the aid of oxygen, or anaerobically, without oxygen.

In this lab, you will try to determine whether yeast are capable of metabolizing a variety of sugars. Although the aerobic fermentation of sugars is much more efficient, in this experiment we will have yeast ferment the sugars anaerobically. When the yeast respire aerobically, oxygen gas is consumed at the same rate that CO2 is produced—there would be no change in the gas pressure in the test tube. When yeast ferment the sugars anaerobically, however, CO2 production will cause a change in the pressure of a closed test tube, since no oxygen is being consumed. We can use this pressure change to monitor the fermentation rate and metabolic activity of the organism.

The fermentation of glucose can be described by the following equation:

{{\text{C}}_{\text{6}}}{{\text{H}}_{{\text{12}}}}{{\text{O}}_{\text{6}}} \to {\text{2 C}}{{\text{H}}_{\text{3}}}{\text{C}}{{\text{H}}_{\text{2}}}{\text{OH + 2 C}}{{\text{O}}_{\text{2}}}{\text{ + energy}} {\text{glucose }} \to {\text{ ethanol  +  carbon dioxide  +  energy}}

Note that alcohol is a byproduct of this fermentation.


In this experiment, you will

  • Use a Gas Pressure Sensor to measure the pressure change caused by carbon dioxide released during fermentation.
  • Determine the rate of fermentation.
  • Determine which sugars yeast can metabolize.

Sensors and Equipment

This experiment features the following Vernier sensors and equipment.

Option 1

Option 2

Additional Requirements

You may also need an interface and software for data collection. What do I need for data collection?

Standards Correlations

See all standards correlations for Biology with Vernier »

Biology with Vernier

See other experiments from the lab book.

1Energy in Food
2Limitations on Cell Size: Surface Area to Volume
3Acids and Bases
4Diffusion through Membranes
5Conducting Solutions
6AEnzyme Action: Testing Catalase Activity
6BEnzyme Action: Testing Catalase Activity
8The Effect of Alcohol on Biological Membranes
9Biological Membranes
11ACell Respiration (O2)
11BCell Respiration (CO2)
11CCell Respiration (Pressure)
11DCell Respiration (CO2 and O2)
12ARespiration of Sugars by Yeast
12BSugar Fermentation
13Population Dynamics
14Interdependence of Plants and Animals
15Biodiversity and Ecosystems
16AEffect of Temperature on Respiration
16BEffect of Temperature on Fermentation
17Aerobic Respiration
18Acid Rain
19Dissolved Oxygen in Water
20Watershed Testing
21Physical Profile of a Lake
23AEffect of Temperature on Cold-Blooded Organisms
23BEffect of Temperature on Cold-Blooded Organisms
24ALactase Action
24BLactase Action
25Primary Productivity
26Control of Human Respiration
27Heart Rate and Physical Fitness
28Monitoring EKG
29Ventilation and Heart Rate
30Oxygen Gas and Human Respiration
31APhotosynthesis and Respiration (O2)
31BPhotosynthesis and Respiration (CO2)
31CPhotosynthesis and Respiration (CO2 and O2)

Experiment 12B from Biology with Vernier Lab Book

<em>Biology with Vernier</em> book cover

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