Stepwise metabolic adaption from pure metabolization to balanced anaerobic growth on xylose explored for recombinant Saccharomyces cerevisiae

Mario Klimacek*, Elisabeth Kirl, Stefan Krahulec, Karin Longus, Vera Novy, Bernd Nidetzky

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


To effectively convert lignocellulosic feedstocks to bio-ethanol anaerobic growth on xylose constitutes an essential trait that Saccharomyces cerevisiae strains normally do not adopt through the selective integration of a xylose assimilation route as the rate of ATP-formation is below energy requirements for cell maintenance (m ATP). To enable cell growth extensive evolutionary and/or elaborate rational engineering is required. However the number of available strains meeting demands for process integration are limited. In this work evolutionary engineering in just two stages coupled to strain selection under strict anaerobic conditions was carried out with BP10001 as progenitor. BP10001 is an efficient (Y ethanol = 0.35 g/g) but slow (q ethanol = 0.05 ± 0.01 g/gBM/h) xylose-metabolizing recombinant strain of Saccharomyces cerevisiae that expresses an optimized yeast-type xylose assimilation pathway.
BP10001 was adapted in 5 generations to anaerobic growth on xylose by prolonged incubation for 91 days in sealed flasks. Resultant strain IBB10A02 displayed a specific growth rate μ of 0.025 ± 0.002 h-1 but produced large amounts of glycerol and xylitol. In addition growth was strongly impaired at pH below 6.0 and in the presence of weak acids. Using sequential batch selection and IBB10A02 as basis, IBB10B05 was evolved (56 generations). IBB10B05 was capable of fast (μ = 0.056 ± 0.003 h-1; q ethanol = 0.28 ± 0.04 g/gBM/h), efficient (Y ethanol = 0.35 ± 0.02 g/g), robust and balanced fermentation of xylose. Importantly, IBB10A02 and IBB10B05 displayed a stable phenotype. Unlike BP10001 both strains displayed an unprecedented biphasic formation of glycerol and xylitol along the fermentation time. Transition from a glycerol- to a xylitol-dominated growth phase, probably controlled by CO2/HCO3 -, was accompanied by a 2.3-fold increase of m ATP while Y ATP (= 87 ± 7 mmolATP/gBM) remained unaffected. As long as glycerol constituted the main by-product energetics of anaerobic growth on xylose and glucose were almost identical.
In just 61 generation IBB10B05, displaying ~530% improved strain fitness, was evolved from BP10001. Its excellent xylose fermentation properties under industrial relevant conditions were proven and rendered it competitive. Based on detailed analysis of growth energetics we showed that m ATP was predominantly determined by the type of polyol formed rather than, as previously assumed, substrate-specific.
Original languageEnglish
Article number37
Number of pages12
JournalMicrobial Cell Factories
Issue number37
Publication statusPublished - 2014

Fields of Expertise

  • Human- & Biotechnology

Treatment code (Nähere Zuordnung)

  • Basic - Fundamental (Grundlagenforschung)
  • Application


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