Engineering industrial Saccharomyces cerevisiae strains for xylose fermentation and comparison for switchgrass conversion
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Saccharomyces’ physiology and fermentation-related properties vary broadly among industrial strains used to ferment glucose. How genetic background affects xylose metabolism in recombinant Saccharomyces strains has not been adequately explored. In this study, six industrial strains of varied genetic background were engineered to ferment xylose by stable integration of the xylose reductase, xylitol dehydrogenase, and xylulokinase genes. Aerobic growth rates on xylose were 0.04–0.17 h−1. Fermentation of xylose and glucose/xylose mixtures also showed a wide range of performance between strains. During xylose fermentation, xylose consumption rates were 0.17–0.31 g/l/h, with ethanol yields 0.18–0.27 g/g. Yields of ethanol and the metabolite xylitol were positively correlated, indicating that all of the strains had downstream limitations to xylose metabolism. The better-performing engineered and parental strains were compared for conversion of alkaline pretreated switchgrass to ethanol. The engineered strains produced 13–17% more ethanol than the parental control strains because of their ability to ferment xylose.
KeywordsXylose Bioethanol Switchgrass Saccharomyces Industrial yeast
We thank Dr. Kenneth Vogel for the generous gift of switchgrass and Loren Iten for its pretreatment, Dr. Cletus Kurtzman for recommending the yeast strains and Katherine Card and Tricia Windgassen for their excellent technical assistance throughout this study. We would also like to thank Patricia O’Bryan for her help evaluating extracellular metabolite concentrations and assistance with switchgrass fermentations.
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