Robust S. cerevisiae strain for next generation bio-processes: concepts and case-studies
Conference poster, 2013
The realization of an oil independent economy relies on the development of competitive processes for the production of fuels and chemicals from renewable resources. The extensive research on second-generation ethanol has paved the way to a new concept of bio-based industry, where lignocellulosic material is the primary source of sugars, to be converted to a number of fuels and chemicals. Sugars are released from cellulose and hemicellulose by pretreatment and hydrolysis steps. Harsh conditions result in the formation of a number of compounds, originating from sugars and lignin breakdown and acting as microorganism inhibitors. Weak organic acids, furaldehydes and phenolic compounds are sources of stress for the fermenting microorganism, as they influence cellular metabolism in a number of ways, including direct damage on cellular functions or by perturbations of the cellular energy and redox metabolism. In addition, the product of interest can act as a potent inhibitor. Regardless of the product, robust microorganisms are a prerequisite for the feasibility of lignocellulose-based bioprocesses.
Current research carried out by our group focuses on the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae and aims at investigating the molecular bases of microbial robustness. Our efforts include the identification of the molecular targets of different classes of fermentation inhibitors aiming at understanding the complex responses of the cells to these compounds. The final goal is to engineer more robust strains. The concept of robustness will be discussed and examples of key features for S. cerevisiae robustness as well as examples of successful engineering to increase robustness will be presented.