Antonie van Leeuwenhoek

, Volume 90, Issue 4, pp 391–418 | Cite as

Alcoholic fermentation of carbon sources in biomass hydrolysates by Saccharomyces cerevisiae: current status

  • Antonius J. A. van Maris
  • Derek A. Abbott
  • Eleonora Bellissimi
  • Joost van den Brink
  • Marko Kuyper
  • Marijke A. H. Luttik
  • H. Wouter Wisselink
  • W. Alexander Scheffers
  • Johannes P. van Dijken
  • Jack T. PronkEmail author
Original Paper


Fuel ethanol production from plant biomass hydrolysates by Saccharomyces cerevisiae is of great economic and environmental significance. This paper reviews the current status with respect to alcoholic fermentation of the main plant biomass-derived monosaccharides by this yeast. Wild-type S. cerevisiae strains readily ferment glucose, mannose and fructose via the Embden–Meyerhof pathway of glycolysis, while galactose is fermented via the Leloir pathway. Construction of yeast strains that efficiently convert other potentially fermentable substrates in plant biomass hydrolysates into ethanol is a major challenge in metabolic engineering. The most abundant of these compounds is xylose. Recent metabolic and evolutionary engineering studies on S. cerevisiae strains that express a fungal xylose isomerase have enabled the rapid and efficient␣anaerobic fermentation of this pentose. l-Arabinose fermentation, based on the expression of a prokaryotic pathway in S. cerevisiae, has also been established, but needs further optimization before it can be considered for industrial implementation. In addition to these already investigated strategies, possible approaches for metabolic engineering of galacturonic acid and rhamnose fermentation by S. cerevisiae are discussed. An emerging and major challenge is to achieve the rapid transition from proof-of-principle experiments under ‘academic’ conditions (synthetic media, single substrates or simple substrate mixtures, absence of toxic inhibitors) towards efficient conversion of complex industrial substrate mixtures that contain synergistically acting inhibitors.


Arabinose Ethanol Galacturonic acid Hydrolysate Rhamnose Xylose 


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The research group of JTP is part of the Kluyver Centre for Genomics of Industrial Fermentation, which is supported by the Netherlands Genomics Initiative. HWW is supported by the B-Basic Programme, JvdB by the IOP Genomics Programme and DAA by Tate & Lyle Ingredients Americas.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Antonius J. A. van Maris
    • 1
  • Derek A. Abbott
    • 1
  • Eleonora Bellissimi
    • 1
  • Joost van den Brink
    • 1
  • Marko Kuyper
    • 1
  • Marijke A. H. Luttik
    • 1
  • H. Wouter Wisselink
    • 1
  • W. Alexander Scheffers
    • 1
  • Johannes P. van Dijken
    • 1
    • 2
  • Jack T. Pronk
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of BiotechnologyDelft University of TechnologyDelftThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Bird Engineering B.V.SchiedamThe Netherlands

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