Flocculation is a very useful phenotype for industrial yeast strains, since it facilitates cell harvest and represents an easy way of cell immobilization in continuous fermentation processes. The present work represents the first time that an inducible flocculation phenotype has been generated in a non flocculent strain of Kluyveromyces marxianus. This was accomplished by expressing Saccharomyces cerevisiae FLO5 gene in K. marxianus CECT 11769 strain. The FLO 5 gene was placed under the control of an EPG promoter, not repressed by glucose and induced by anoxia. Our experimental approach successfully generated two novel K. marxianus flocculent phenotypes: one inducible and one constitutive. The constitutive phenotype originated from deletions in the FLO5 promoter region, indicating the existence of putative upstream repressor site involved in oxygen regulation of the EPG1 promoter. The novel strains here generated had a unique set of characteristics that provided an advantage, over the wild-type strain, for the industrial co-production of ethanol and polygalacturonase.
Keywords: Kluyveromyces marxianus, Inducible flocculent phenotype, Polygalacturonase, Ethanol