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1.  Conversion of C6 and C5 sugars in undetoxified wet exploded bagasse hydrolysates using Scheffersomyces (Pichia) stipitis CBS6054 
AMB Express  2013;3:42.
Sugarcane bagasse is a potential feedstock for cellulosic ethanol production, rich in both glucan and xylan. This stresses the importance of utilizing both C6 and C5 sugars for conversion into ethanol in order to improve the process economics. During processing of the hydrolysate degradation products such as acetate, 5-hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF) and furfural are formed, which are known to inhibit microbial growth at higher concentrations. In the current study, conversion of both glucose and xylose sugars into ethanol in wet exploded bagasse hydrolysates was investigated without detoxification using Scheffersomyces (Pichia) stipitis CBS6054, a native xylose utilizing yeast strain. The sugar utilization ratio and ethanol yield (Yp/s) ranged from 88-100% and 0.33-0.41 ± 0.02 g/g, respectively, in all the hydrolysates tested. Hydrolysate after wet explosion at 185°C and 6 bar O2, composed of mixed sugars (glucose and xylose) and inhibitors such as acetate, HMF and furfural at concentrations of 3.2 ± 0.1, 0.4 and 0.5 g/l, respectively, exhibited highest cell growth rate of 0.079 g/l/h and an ethanol yield of 0.39 ± 0.02 g/g sugar converted. Scheffersomyces stipitis exhibited prolonged fermentation time on bagasse hydrolysate after wet explosion at 200°C and 6 bar O2 where the inhibitors concentration was further increased. Nonetheless, ethanol was produced up to 18.7 ± 1.1 g/l resulting in a yield of 0.38 ± 0.02 g/g after 82 h of fermentation.
PMCID: PMC3750711  PMID: 23895663
Scheffersomyces (Pichia) stipitis; Cellulosic ethanol; Sugarcane bagasse; Wet explosion pretreatment; Inhibitors; Xylose fermentation
2.  Isolation and characterization of acetic acid-tolerant galactose-fermenting strains of Saccharomyces cerevisiae from a spent sulfite liquor fermentation plant. 
From a continuous spent sulfite liquor fermentation plant, two species of yeast were isolated, Saccharomyces cerevisiae and Pichia membranaefaciens. One of the isolates of S. cerevisiae, no. 3, was heavily flocculating and produced a higher ethanol yield from spent sulfite liquor than did commercial baker's yeast. The greatest difference between isolate 3 and baker's yeast was that of galactose fermentation, even when galactose utilization was induced, i.e., when they were grown in the presence of galactose, prior to fermentation. Without acetic acid present, both baker's yeast and isolate 3 fermented glucose and galactose sequentially. Galactose fermentation with baker's yeast was strongly inhibited by acetic acid at pH values below 6. Isolate 3 fermented galactose, glucose, and mannose without catabolite repression in the presence of acetic acid, even at pH 4.5. The xylose reductase (EC and xylitol dehydrogenase (EC activities were determined in some of the isolates as well as in two strains of S. cerevisiae (ATCC 24860 and baker's yeast) and Pichia stipitis CBS 6054. The S. cerevisiae strains manifested xylose reductase activity that was 2 orders of magnitude less than the corresponding P. stipitis value of 890 nmol/min/mg of protein. The xylose dehydrogenase activity was 1 order of magnitude less than the corresponding activity of P. stipitis (330 nmol/min/mg of protein).
PMCID: PMC195655  PMID: 1622236
3.  Pichia stipitis Genes for Alcohol Dehydrogenase with Fermentative and Respiratory Functions 
Two genes coding for isozymes of alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH); designated PsADH1 and PsADH2, have been identified and isolated from Pichia stipitis CBS 6054 genomic DNA by Southern hybridization to Saccharomyces cerevisiae ADH genes, and their physiological roles have been characterized through disruption. The amino acid sequences of the PsADH1 and PsADH2 isozymes are 80.5% identical to one another and are 71.9 and 74.7% identical to the S. cerevisiae ADH1 protein. They also show a high level identity with the group I ADH proteins from Kluyveromyces lactis. The PsADH isozymes are presumably localized in the cytoplasm, as they do not possess the amino-terminal extension of mitochondrion-targeted ADHs. Gene disruption studies suggest that PsADH1 plays a major role in xylose fermentation because PsADH1 disruption results in a lower growth rate and profoundly greater accumulation of xylitol. Disruption of PsADH2 does not significantly affect ethanol production or aerobic growth on ethanol as long as PsADH1 is present. The PsADH1 and PsADH2 isozymes appear to be equivalent in the ability to convert ethanol to acetaldehyde, and either is sufficient to allow cell growth on ethanol. However, disruption of both genes blocks growth on ethanol. P. stipitis strains disrupted in either PsADH1 or PsADH2 still accumulate ethanol, although in different amounts, when grown on xylose under oxygen-limited conditions. The PsADH double disruptant, which is unable to grow on ethanol, still produces ethanol from xylose at about 13% of the rate seen in the parental strain. Thus, deletion of both PsADH1 and PsADH2 blocks ethanol respiration but not production, implying a separate path for fermentation.
PMCID: PMC106154  PMID: 9546172
4.  Random UV-C mutagenesis of Scheffersomyces (formerly Pichia) stipitis NRRL Y-7124 to improve anaerobic growth on lignocellulosic sugars 
Scheffersomyces (formerly Pichia) stipitis NRRL Y-7124 was mutagenized using UV-C irradiation to produce yeast strains for anaerobic conversion of lignocellulosic sugars to ethanol. UV-C irradiation potentially produces large numbers of random mutations broadly and uniformly over the whole genome to generate unique strains. Wild-type cultures of S. stipitis NRRL Y-7124 were subjected to UV-C (234 nm) irradiation targeted at approximately 40% cell survival. When surviving cells were selected in sufficient numbers via automated plating strategies and cultured anaerobically on xylose medium for 5 months at 28°C, five novel mutagenized S. stipitis strains were obtained. Variable number tandem repeat analysis revealed that mutations had occurred in the genome, which may have produced genes that allowed the anaerobic utilization of xylose. The mutagenized strains were capable of growing anaerobically on xylose/glucose substrate with higher ethanol production during 250- to 500-h growth than a Saccharomyces cerevisiae yeast strain that is the standard for industrial fuel ethanol production. The S. stipitis strains resulting from this intense multigene mutagenesis strategy have potential application in industrial fuel ethanol production from lignocellulosic hydrolysates.
PMCID: PMC3249541  PMID: 21748309
Pichia stipitis [Scheffersomyces stipitis]; Cellulosic fuel ethanol; Anaerobic xylose fermentation; Yeast UV mutagenesis
5.  Simultaneously improving xylose fermentation and tolerance to lignocellulosic inhibitors through evolutionary engineering of recombinant Saccharomyces cerevisiae harbouring xylose isomerase 
BMC Biotechnology  2014;14:41.
Yeasts tolerant to toxic inhibitors from steam-pretreated lignocellulose with xylose co-fermentation capability represent an appealing approach for 2nd generation ethanol production. Whereas rational engineering, mutagenesis and evolutionary engineering are established techniques for either improved xylose utilisation or enhancing yeast tolerance, this report focuses on the simultaneous enhancement of these attributes through mutagenesis and evolutionary engineering of Saccharomyces cerevisiae harbouring xylose isomerase in anoxic chemostat culture using non-detoxified pretreatment liquor from triticale straw.
Following ethyl methanesulfonate (EMS) mutagenesis, Saccharomyces cerevisiae strain D5A+ (ATCC 200062 strain platform), harbouring the xylose isomerase (XI) gene for pentose co-fermentation was grown in anoxic chemostat culture for 100 generations at a dilution rate of 0.10 h-1 in a medium consisting of 60% (v/v) non-detoxified hydrolysate liquor from steam-pretreated triticale straw, supplemented with 20 g/L xylose as carbon source. In semi-aerobic batch cultures in the same medium, the isolated strain D5A+H exhibited a slightly lower maximum specific growth rate (μmax = 0.12 ± 0.01 h-1) than strain TMB3400, with no ethanol production observed by the latter strain. Strain D5A+H also exhibited a shorter lag phase (4 h vs. 30 h) and complete removal of HMF, furfural and acetic acid from the fermentation broth within 24 h, reaching an ethanol concentration of 1.54 g/L at a yield (Yp/s) of 0.06 g/g xylose and a specific productivity of 2.08 g/gh. Evolutionary engineering profoundly affected the yeast metabolism, given that parental strain D5A+ exhibited an oxidative metabolism on xylose prior to strain development.
Physiological adaptations confirm improvements in the resistance to and conversion of inhibitors from pretreatment liquor with simultaneous enhancement of xylose to ethanol fermentation. These data support the sequential application of random mutagenesis followed by continuous culture under simultaneous selective pressure from inhibitors and xylose as primary carbon source.
PMCID: PMC4026109  PMID: 24884721
Saccharomyces cerevisiae; Yeast hardening; Evolutionary engineering; Random mutagenesis; Triticale hydrolysate; EMS; Lignocellulose
6.  Pichia stipitis xylose reductase helps detoxifying lignocellulosic hydrolysate by reducing 5-hydroxymethyl-furfural (HMF) 
Pichia stipitis xylose reductase (Ps-XR) has been used to design Saccharomyces cerevisiae strains that are able to ferment xylose. One example is the industrial S. cerevisiae xylose-consuming strain TMB3400, which was constructed by expression of P. stipitis xylose reductase and xylitol dehydrogenase and overexpression of endogenous xylulose kinase in the industrial S. cerevisiae strain USM21.
In this study, we demonstrate that strain TMB3400 not only converts xylose, but also displays higher tolerance to lignocellulosic hydrolysate during anaerobic batch fermentation as well as 3 times higher in vitro HMF and furfural reduction activity than the control strain USM21. Using laboratory strains producing various levels of Ps-XR, we confirm that Ps-XR is able to reduce HMF both in vitro and in vivo. Ps-XR overexpression increases the in vivo HMF conversion rate by approximately 20%, thereby improving yeast tolerance towards HMF. Further purification of Ps-XR shows that HMF is a substrate inhibitor of the enzyme.
We demonstrate for the first time that xylose reductase is also able to reduce the furaldehyde compounds that are present in undetoxified lignocellulosic hydrolysates. Possible implications of this newly characterized activity of Ps-XR on lignocellulosic hydrolysate fermentation are discussed.
PMCID: PMC2464581  PMID: 18547412
7.  Comparison of the xylose reductase-xylitol dehydrogenase and the xylose isomerase pathways for xylose fermentation by recombinant Saccharomyces cerevisiae 
Two heterologous pathways have been used to construct recombinant xylose-fermenting Saccharomyces cerevisiae strains: i) the xylose reductase (XR) and xylitol dehydrogenase (XDH) pathway and ii) the xylose isomerase (XI) pathway. In the present study, the Pichia stipitis XR-XDH pathway and the Piromyces XI pathway were compared in an isogenic strain background, using a laboratory host strain with genetic modifications known to improve xylose fermentation (overexpressed xylulokinase, overexpressed non-oxidative pentose phosphate pathway and deletion of the aldose reductase gene GRE3). The two isogenic strains and the industrial xylose-fermenting strain TMB 3400 were studied regarding their xylose fermentation capacity in defined mineral medium and in undetoxified lignocellulosic hydrolysate.
In defined mineral medium, the xylose consumption rate, the specific ethanol productivity, and the final ethanol concentration were significantly higher in the XR- and XDH-carrying strain, whereas the highest ethanol yield was achieved with the strain carrying XI. While the laboratory strains only fermented a minor fraction of glucose in the undetoxified lignocellulose hydrolysate, the industrial strain TMB 3400 fermented nearly all the sugar available. Xylitol was formed by the XR-XDH-carrying strains only in mineral medium, whereas in lignocellulose hydrolysate no xylitol formation was detected.
Despite by-product formation, the XR-XDH xylose utilization pathway resulted in faster ethanol production than using the best presently reported XI pathway in the strain background investigated. The need for robust industrial yeast strains for fermentation of undetoxified spruce hydrolysates was also confirmed.
PMCID: PMC1797182  PMID: 17280608
8.  Molecular Cloning of XYL3 (d-Xylulokinase) from Pichia stipitis and Characterization of Its Physiological Function 
XYL3, which encodes a d-xylulokinase (EC, was isolated from Pichia stipitis CBS 6054 genomic DNA by using primers designed against conserved motifs. Disruption of XYL3 eliminated d-xylulokinase activity, but d-ribulokinase activity was still present. Southern analysis of P. stipitis genomic DNA with XYL3 as a probe confirmed the disruption and did not reveal additional related genes. Disruption of XYL3 stopped ethanol production from xylose, but the resulting mutant still assimilated xylose slowly and formed xylitol and arabinitol. These results indicate that XYL3 is critical for ethanol production from xylose but that P. stipitis has another pathway for xylose assimilation. Expression of XYL3 using its P. stipitis promoter increased Saccharomyces cerevisiae d-xylulose consumption threefold and enabled the transformants to produce ethanol from a mixture of xylose and xylulose, whereas the parental strain only accumulated xylitol. In vitro, d-xylulokinase activity in recombinant S. cerevisiae was sixfold higher with a multicopy than with a single-copy XYL3 plasmid, but ethanol production decreased with increased copy number. These results confirmed the function of XYL3 in S. cerevisiae.
PMCID: PMC123745  PMID: 11872473
9.  Rice bran extract: an inexpensive nitrogen source for the production of 2G ethanol from sugarcane bagasse hydrolysate 
3 Biotech  2012;3(5):373-379.
Selection of the raw material and its efficient utilization are the critical factors in economization of second generation (2G) ethanol production. Fermentation of the released sugars into ethanol by a suitable ethanol producing microorganism using cheap media ingredients is the cornerstone of the overall process. This study evaluated the potential of rice bran extract (RBE) as a cheap nitrogen source for the production of 2G ethanol by Scheffersomyces (Pichia) stipitis NRRL Y-7124 using sugarcane bagasse (SB) hemicellulosic hydrolysate. Dilute acid hydrolysis of SB showed 12.45 g/l of xylose and 0.67 g/l of glucose along with inhibitors. It was concentrated by vacuum evaporation and submitted to sequential detoxification (neutralization by calcium hydroxide and charcoal adsorption). The detoxified hydrolysate revealed the removal of furfural (81 %) and 5-hydroxymethylfurfural (61 %) leading to the final concentration of glucose (1.69 g/l) and xylose (33.03 g/l). S. stipitis was grown in three different fermentation media composed of detoxified hydrolysate as carbon source supplemented with varying nitrogen sources i.e. medium #1 (RBE + ammonium sulfate + calcium chloride), medium #2 (yeast extract + peptone) and medium #3 (yeast extract + peptone + malt extract). Medium #1 showed maximum ethanol production (8.6 g/l, yield 0.22 g/g) followed by medium #2 (8.1 g/l, yield 0.19 g/g) and medium #3 (7.4 g/l, yield 0.18 g/g).
PMCID: PMC3781271
Rice bran extract; Bioethanol; Scheffersomyces stipitis NRRL Y-7124; Sugarcane bagasse; Nitrogen source
10.  Anaerobic Xylose Fermentation by Recombinant Saccharomyces cerevisiae Carrying XYL1, XYL2, and XKS1 in Mineral Medium Chemostat Cultures 
For ethanol production from lignocellulose, the fermentation of xylose is an economic necessity. Saccharomyces cerevisiae has been metabolically engineered with a xylose-utilizing pathway. However, the high ethanol yield and productivity seen with glucose have not yet been achieved. To quantitatively analyze metabolic fluxes in recombinant S. cerevisiae during metabolism of xylose-glucose mixtures, we constructed a stable xylose-utilizing recombinant strain, TMB 3001. The XYL1 and XYL2 genes from Pichia stipitis, encoding xylose reductase (XR) and xylitol dehydrogenase (XDH), respectively, and the endogenous XKS1 gene, encoding xylulokinase (XK), under control of the PGK1 promoter were integrated into the chromosomal HIS3 locus of S. cerevisiae CEN.PK 113-7A. The strain expressed XR, XDH, and XK activities of 0.4 to 0.5, 2.7 to 3.4, and 1.5 to 1.7 U/mg, respectively, and was stable for more than 40 generations in continuous fermentations. Anaerobic ethanol formation from xylose by recombinant S. cerevisiae was demonstrated for the first time. However, the strain grew on xylose only in the presence of oxygen. Ethanol yields of 0.45 to 0.50 mmol of C/mmol of C (0.35 to 0.38 g/g) and productivities of 9.7 to 13.2 mmol of C h−1 g (dry weight) of cells−1 (0.24 to 0.30 g h−1 g [dry weight] of cells−1) were obtained from xylose-glucose mixtures in anaerobic chemostat cultures, with a dilution rate of 0.06 h−1. The anaerobic ethanol yield on xylose was estimated at 0.27 mol of C/(mol of C of xylose) (0.21 g/g), assuming a constant ethanol yield on glucose. The xylose uptake rate increased with increasing xylose concentration in the feed, from 3.3 mmol of C h−1 g (dry weight) of cells−1 when the xylose-to-glucose ratio in the feed was 1:3 to 6.8 mmol of C h−1 g (dry weight) of cells−1 when the feed ratio was 3:1. With a feed content of 15 g of xylose/liter and 5 g of glucose/liter, the xylose flux was 2.2 times lower than the glucose flux, indicating that transport limits the xylose flux.
PMCID: PMC92159  PMID: 10919795
11.  Xylose-metabolizing Saccharomyces cerevisiae strains overexpressing the TKL1 and TAL1 genes encoding the pentose phosphate pathway enzymes transketolase and transaldolase. 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  1995;61(12):4184-4190.
Saccharomyces cerevisiae was metabolically engineered for xylose utilization. The Pichia stipitis CBS 6054 genes XYL1 and XYL2 encoding xylose reductase and xylitol dehydrogenase were cloned into S. cerevisiae. The gene products catalyze the two initial steps in xylose utilization which S. cerevisiae lacks. In order to increase the flux through the pentose phosphate pathway, the S. cerevisiae TKL1 and TAL1 genes encoding transketolase and transaldolase were overexpressed. A XYL1- and XYL2-containing S. cerevisiae strain overexpressing TAL1 (S104-TAL) showed considerably enhanced growth on xylose compared with a strain containing only XYL1 and XYL2. Overexpression of only TKL1 did not influence growth. The results indicate that the transaldolase level in S. cerevisiae is insufficient for the efficient utilization of pentose phosphate pathway metabolites. Mixtures of xylose and glucose were simultaneously consumed with the recombinant strain S104-TAL. The rate of xylose consumption was higher in the presence of glucose. Xylose was used for growth and xylitol formation, but not for ethanol production. Decreased oxygenation resulted in impaired growth and increased xylitol formation. Fermentation with strain S103-TAL, having a xylose reductase/xylitol dehydrogenase ratio of 0.5:30 compared with 4.2:5.8 for S104-TAL, did not prevent xylitol formation.
PMCID: PMC167730  PMID: 8534086
12.  Inhibition of growth of Zymomonas mobilis by model compounds found in lignocellulosic hydrolysates 
During the pretreatment of biomass feedstocks and subsequent conditioning prior to saccharification, many toxic compounds are produced or introduced which inhibit microbial growth and in many cases, production of ethanol. An understanding of the toxic effects of compounds found in hydrolysate is critical to improving sugar utilization and ethanol yields in the fermentation process. In this study, we established a useful tool for surveying hydrolysate toxicity by measuring growth rates in the presence of toxic compounds, and examined the effects of selected model inhibitors of aldehydes, organic and inorganic acids (along with various cations), and alcohols on growth of Zymomonas mobilis 8b (a ZM4 derivative) using glucose or xylose as the carbon source.
Toxicity strongly correlated to hydrophobicity in Z. mobilis, which has been observed in Escherichia coli and Saccharomyces cerevisiae for aldehydes and with some exceptions, organic acids. We observed Z. mobilis 8b to be more tolerant to organic acids than previously reported, although the carbon source and growth conditions play a role in tolerance. Growth in xylose was profoundly inhibited by monocarboxylic organic acids compared to growth in glucose, whereas dicarboxylic acids demonstrated little or no effects on growth rate in either substrate. Furthermore, cations can be ranked in order of their toxicity, Ca++ > > Na+ > NH4+ > K+. HMF (5-hydroxymethylfurfural), furfural and acetate, which were observed to contribute to inhibition of Z. mobilis growth in dilute acid pretreated corn stover hydrolysate, do not interact in a synergistic manner in combination. We provide further evidence that Z. mobilis 8b is capable of converting the aldehydes furfural, vanillin, 4-hydroxybenzaldehyde and to some extent syringaldehyde to their alcohol forms (furfuryl, vanillyl, 4-hydroxybenzyl and syringyl alcohol) during fermentation.
Several key findings in this report provide a mechanism for predicting toxic contributions of inhibitory components of hydrolysate and provide guidance for potential process development, along with potential future strain improvement and tolerance strategies.
PMCID: PMC3716709  PMID: 23837621
Zymomonas mobilis; High-throughput screening; Cell growth assay; Bioscreen C; Inhibitor; Hydrolysate; Lignocellulosic biomass; Ethanol
13.  Isolation and characterization of Cupriavidus basilensis HMF14 for biological removal of inhibitors from lignocellulosic hydrolysate 
Microbial biotechnology  2010;3(3):336-343.
The formation of toxic fermentation inhibitors such as furfural and 5‐hydroxy‐2‐methylfurfural (HMF) during acid (pre‐)treatment of lignocellulose, calls for the efficient removal of these compounds. Lignocellulosic hydrolysates can be efficiently detoxified biologically with microorganisms that specifically metabolize the fermentation inhibitors while preserving the sugars for subsequent use by the fermentation host. The bacterium Cupriavidus basilensis HMF14 was isolated from enrichment cultures with HMF as the sole carbon source and was found to metabolize many of the toxic constituents of lignocellulosic hydrolysate including furfural, HMF, acetate, formate and a host of aromatic compounds. Remarkably, this microorganism does not grow on the most abundant sugars in lignocellulosic hydrolysates: glucose, xylose and arabinose. In addition, C. basilensis HMF14 can produce polyhydroxyalkanoates. Cultivation of C. basilensis HMF14 on wheat straw hydrolysate resulted in the complete removal of furfural, HMF, acetate and formate, leaving the sugar fraction intact. This unique substrate profile makes C. basilensis HMF14 extremely well suited for biological removal of inhibitors from lignocellulosic hydrolysates prior to their use as fermentation feedstock.
PMCID: PMC3815375  PMID: 21255332
14.  Dynamic metabolic modeling of a microaerobic yeast co-culture: predicting and optimizing ethanol production from glucose/xylose mixtures 
A key step in any process that converts lignocellulose to biofuels is the efficient fermentation of both hexose and pentose sugars. The co-culture of respiratory-deficient Saccharomyces cerevisiae and wild-type Scheffersomyces stipitis has been identified as a promising system for microaerobic ethanol production because S. cerevisiae only consumes glucose while S. stipitis efficiently converts xylose to ethanol.
To better predict how these two yeasts behave in batch co-culture and to optimize system performance, a dynamic flux balance model describing co-culture metabolism was developed from genome-scale metabolic reconstructions of the individual organisms. First a dynamic model was developed for each organism by estimating substrate uptake kinetic parameters from batch pure culture data and evaluating model extensibility to different microaerobic growth conditions. The co-culture model was constructed by combining the two individual models assuming a cellular objective of total growth rate maximization. To obtain accurate predictions of batch co-culture data collected at different microaerobic conditions, the S. cerevisiae maximum glucose uptake rate was reduced from its pure culture value to account for more efficient S. stipitis glucose uptake in co-culture. The dynamic co-culture model was used to predict the inoculum concentration and aeration level that maximized batch ethanol productivity. The model predictions were validated with batch co-culture experiments performed at the optimal conditions. Furthermore, the dynamic model was used to predict how engineered improvements to the S. stipitis xylose transport system could improve co-culture ethanol production.
These results demonstrate the utility of the dynamic co-culture metabolic model for guiding process and metabolic engineering efforts aimed at increasing microaerobic ethanol production from glucose/xylose mixtures.
PMCID: PMC3776438  PMID: 23548183
Co-culture; Cellulosic ethanol; Fermentation; Mathematical modeling; Saccharomyces cerevisiae; Scheffersomyces stipitis
15.  Xylose reductase from Pichia stipitis with altered coenzyme preference improves ethanolic xylose fermentation by recombinant Saccharomyces cerevisiae 
Xylose reductase (XR) and xylitol dehydrogenase (XDH) from Pichia stipitis are the two enzymes most commonly used in recombinant Saccharomyces cerevisiae strains engineered for xylose utilization. The availability of NAD+ for XDH is limited during anaerobic xylose fermentation because of the preference of XR for NADPH. This in turn results in xylitol formation and reduced ethanol yield. The coenzyme preference of P. stipitis XR was changed by site-directed mutagenesis with the aim to engineer it towards NADH-preference.
XR variants were evaluated in S. cerevisiae strains with the following genetic modifications: overexpressed native P. stipitis XDH, overexpressed xylulokinase, overexpressed non-oxidative pentose phosphate pathway and deleted GRE3 gene encoding an NADPH dependent aldose reductase. All overexpressed genes were chromosomally integrated to ensure stable expression. Crude extracts of four different strains overexpressing genes encoding native P. stipitis XR, K270M and K270R mutants, as well as Candida parapsilosis XR, were enzymatically characterized. The physiological effects of the mutations were investigated in anaerobic xylose fermentation. The strain overexpressing P. stipitis XR with the K270R mutation gave an ethanol yield of 0.39 g (g consumed sugars)-1, a xylitol yield of 0.05 g (g consumed xylose)-1 and a xylose consumption rate of 0.28 g (g biomass)-1 h-1 in continuous fermentation at a dilution rate of 0.12 h-1, with 10 g l-1 glucose and 10 g l-1 xylose as carbon sources.
The cofactor preference of P. stipitis XR was altered by site-directed mutagenesis. When the K270R XR was combined with a metabolic engineering strategy that ensures high xylose utilization capabilities, a recombinant S. cerevisiae strain was created that provides a unique combination of high xylose consumption rate, high ethanol yield and low xylitol yield during ethanolic xylose fermentation.
PMCID: PMC2688486  PMID: 19416504
16.  Phosphorus-31 and carbon-13 nuclear magnetic resonance studies of glucose and xylose metabolism in cell suspensions and agarose-immobilized cultures of Pichia stipitis and Saccharomyces cerevisiae. 
The metabolism of glucose and xylose as a function of oxygenation in Pichia stipitis and Saccharomyces cerevisiae cell suspensions was studied by 31P and 13C nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy. The rate of both glucose and xylose metabolism was slightly higher and the production of ethanol was slightly lower in aerobic than in anoxic cell suspensions of P. stipitis. As well, the cytoplasmic pH of oxygenated cells was more alkaline than that of nonoxygenated cells. In contrast, in S. cerevisiae, the intracellular pH and the rate of glucose metabolism and ethanol production were the same under aerobic and anoxic conditions. Agarose-immobilized Pichia stipitis was able to metabolize xylose or glucose for 24 to 60 h at rates and with theoretical yields of ethanol similar to those obtained with anoxic cell suspensions. Cell growth within the beads, however, was severely compromised. The intracellular pH [pH(int)] of the entrapped cells fell to more acidic pH values in the course of the perfusions relative to corresponding cell suspensions. Of importance was the observation that no enhancement in the rate of carbohydrate metabolism occurred in response to changes in the pH(int) value. In contrast to P. stipitis, agarose-immobilized Saccharomyces cerevisiae showed a dramatic twofold increase in its ability to metabolize glucose in the immobilized state relative to cell suspensions. This strain was also able to grow within the beads, although the doubling time for the entrapped cells was longer, by a factor of 2, than the value obtained for log-phase batch cultures. Initially, the pH(int) of the immobilized cells was more alkaline than was observed with the corresponding S. cerevisiae cell suspensions; however, over time, the intracellular pH became increasingly acidic. As with immobilized P. stipitis, however, the pH(int) did not play a key role in controlling the rate of glucose metabolism.
PMCID: PMC168068  PMID: 8702275
17.  High-efficiency transformation of Pichia stipitis based on its URA3 gene and a homologous autonomous replication sequence, ARS2. 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  1994;60(12):4245-4254.
This paper describes the first high-efficiency transformation system for the xylose-fermenting yeast Pichia stipitis. The system includes integrating and autonomously replicating plasmids based on the gene for orotidine-5'-phosphate decarboxylase (URA3) and an autonomous replicating sequence (ARS) element (ARS2) isolated from P. stipitis CBS 6054. Ura- auxotrophs were obtained by selecting for resistance to 5-fluoroorotic acid and were identified as ura3 mutants by transformation with P. stipitis URA3. P. stipitis URA3 was cloned by its homology to Saccharomyces cerevisiae URA3, with which it is 69% identical in the coding region. P. stipitis ARS elements were cloned functionally through plasmid rescue. These sequences confer autonomous replication when cloned into vectors bearing the P. stipitis URA3 gene. P. stipitis ARS2 has features similar to those of the consensus ARS of S. cerevisiae and other ARS elements. Circular plasmids bearing the P. stipitis URA3 gene with various amounts of flanking sequences produced 600 to 8,600 Ura+ transformants per micrograms of DNA by electroporation. Most transformants obtained with circular vectors arose without integration of vector sequences. One vector yielded 5,200 to 12,500 Ura+ transformants per micrograms of DNA after it was linearized at various restriction enzyme sites within the P. stipitis URA3 insert. Transformants arising from linearized vectors produced stable integrants, and integration events were site specific for the genomic ura3 in 20% of the transformants examined. Plasmids bearing the P. stipitis URA3 gene and ARS2 element produced more than 30,000 transformants per micrograms of plasmid DNA. Autonomously replicating plasmids were stable for at least 50 generations in selection medium and were present at an average of 10 copies per nucleus.
PMCID: PMC201976  PMID: 7811063
18.  Evolved strains of Scheffersomyces stipitis achieving high ethanol productivity on acid- and base-pretreated biomass hydrolyzate at high solids loading 
Lignocellulosic biomass is an abundant, renewable feedstock useful for the production of fuel-grade ethanol via the processing steps of pretreatment, enzyme hydrolysis, and microbial fermentation. Traditional industrial yeasts do not ferment xylose and are not able to grow, survive, or ferment in concentrated hydrolyzates that contain enough sugar to support economical ethanol recovery since they are laden with toxic byproducts generated during pretreatment.
Repetitive culturing in two types of concentrated hydrolyzates was applied along with ethanol-challenged xylose-fed continuous culture to force targeted evolution of the native pentose fermenting yeast Scheffersomyces (Pichia) stipitis strain NRRL Y-7124 maintained in the ARS Culture Collection, Peoria, IL. Isolates collected from various enriched populations were screened and ranked based on relative xylose uptake rate and ethanol yield. Ranking on hydrolyzates with and without nutritional supplementation was used to identify those isolates with best performance across diverse conditions.
Robust S. stipitis strains adapted to perform very well in enzyme hydrolyzates of high solids loading ammonia fiber expansion-pretreated corn stover (18% weight per volume solids) and dilute sulfuric acid-pretreated switchgrass (20% w/v solids) were obtained. Improved features include reduced initial lag phase preceding growth, significantly enhanced fermentation rates, improved ethanol tolerance and yield, reduced diauxic lag during glucose-xylose transition, and ability to accumulate >40 g/L ethanol in <167 h when fermenting hydrolyzate at low initial cell density of 0.5 absorbance units and pH 5 to 6.
PMCID: PMC4397816  PMID: 25878726
Lignocellulose; Biofuel; Adaptation; Yeast; Pichia stipitis; Fermentation
19.  Ethanol Reassimilation and Ethanol Tolerance in Pichia stipitis CBS 6054 as Studied by 13C Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy 
Ethanol reassimilation in Pichia stipitis CBS 6054 was studied by using continuous cultures, and the oxidation of [1-13C]ethanol was monitored by in vivo and in vitro 13C nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy. Acetate was formed when ethanol was reassimilated. The ATP/ADP ratio and the carbon dioxide production decreased, whereas the malate dehydrogenase activity increased, in ethanol-reassimilating cells. The results are discussed in terms of the low ethanol tolerance in P. stipitis compared with that in Saccharomyces cerevisiae (S. W. Brown, S. G. Oliver, D. E. F. Harrison, and R. C. Righelato, Eur. J. Appl. Microbiol. Biotechnol. 11:151-155, 1981).
PMCID: PMC195820  PMID: 16348754
20.  Combining inhibitor tolerance and D-xylose fermentation in industrial Saccharomyces cerevisiae for efficient lignocellulose-based bioethanol production 
In addition to efficient pentose utilization, high inhibitor tolerance is a key trait required in any organism used for economically viable industrial bioethanol production with lignocellulose biomass. Although recent work has succeeded in establishing efficient xylose fermentation in robust industrial Saccharomyces cerevisiae strains, the resulting strains still lacked sufficient inhibitor tolerance for efficient sugar fermentation in lignocellulose hydrolysates. The aim of the present work was to combine high xylose fermentation activity and high inhibitor tolerance in a single industrial yeast strain.
We have screened 580 yeast strains for high inhibitor tolerance using undetoxified acid-pretreated spruce hydrolysate and identified a triploid industrial baker’s yeast strain as having the highest inhibitor tolerance. From this strain, a mating competent diploid segregant with even higher inhibitor tolerance was obtained. It was crossed with the recently developed D-xylose fermenting diploid industrial strain GS1.11-26, with the Ethanol Red genetic background. Screening of 819 diploid segregants from the tetraploid hybrid resulted in two strains, GSF335 and GSF767, combining high inhibitor tolerance and efficient xylose fermentation. In a parallel approach, meiotic recombination of GS1.11-26 with a haploid segregant of Ethanol Red and screening of 104 segregants resulted in a similar inhibitor tolerant diploid strain, GSE16. The three superior strains exhibited significantly improved tolerance to inhibitors in spruce hydrolysate, higher glucose consumption rates, higher aerobic growth rates and higher maximal ethanol accumulation capacity in very-high gravity fermentation, compared to GS1.11-26. In complex medium, the D-xylose utilization rate by the three superior strains ranged from 0.36 to 0.67 g/g DW/h, which was lower than that of GS1.11-26 (1.10 g/g DW/h). On the other hand, in batch fermentation of undetoxified acid-pretreated spruce hydrolysate, the three superior strains showed comparable D-xylose utilization rates as GS1.11-26, probably because of their higher inhibitor tolerance. They produced up to 23% more ethanol compared to Ethanol Red.
We have successfully constructed three superior industrial S. cerevisiae strains that combine efficient D-xylose utilization with high inhibitor tolerance. Since the background strain Ethanol Red has a proven record of successful industrial application, the three new superior strains have strong potential for direct application in industrial bioethanol production.
PMCID: PMC3765968  PMID: 23971950
Bioethanol production; Pentose utilization; Inhibitor tolerance; Saccharomyces cerevisiae; Meiotic recombination; Spruce hydrolysate; Very-high gravity fermentation
21.  Cofactor Dependence in Furan Reduction by Saccharomyces cerevisiae in Fermentation of Acid-Hydrolyzed Lignocellulose 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2005;71(12):7866-7871.
A decreased fermentation rate due to inhibition is a significant problem for economic conversion of acid-pretreated lignocellulose hydrolysates to ethanol, since the inhibition gives rise to a requirement for separate detoxification steps. Together with acetic acid, the sugar degradation products furfural and 5-hydroxymethyl furfural are the inhibiting compounds found at the highest concentrations in hydrolysates. These aldehydes have been shown to affect both the specific growth rate and the rate of fermentation by yeast. Two strains of Saccharomyces cerevisiae with different abilities to ferment inhibiting hydrolysates were evaluated in fermentations of a dilute acid hydrolysate from spruce, and the reducing activities for furfural and 5-hydroxymethyl furfural were determined. Crude cell extracts of a hydrolysate-tolerant strain (TMB3000) converted both furfural and 5-hydroxymethyl furfural to the corresponding alcohol at a rate that was severalfold higher than the rate observed for cell extracts of a less tolerant strain (CBS 8066), thereby confirming that there is a correlation between the fermentation rate in a lignocellulosic hydrolysate and the bioconversion capacity of a strain. The in vitro NADH-dependent furfural reduction capacity of TMB3000 was three times higher than that of CBS 8066 (1,200 mU/mg protein and 370 mU/mg protein, respectively) in fed-batch experiments. Furthermore, the inhibitor-tolerant strain TMB3000 displayed a previously unknown NADH-dependent reducing activity for 5-hydroxymethyl furfural (400 mU/mg protein during fed-batch fermentation of hydrolysates). No corresponding activity was found in strain CBS 8066 (<2 mU/mg). The ability to reduce 5-hydroxymethyl furfural is an important characteristic for the development of yeast strains with increased tolerance to lignocellulosic hydrolysates.
PMCID: PMC1317483  PMID: 16332761
22.  Analysis of biodegradation performance of furfural and 5-hydroxymethylfurfural by Amorphotheca resinae ZN1 
Furfural and 5-hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF) are the degradation products of lignocellulose during pretreatment operations and significantly inhibit the consequent enzymatic hydrolysis and fermentation processes. The biodetoxification fungus Amorphotheca resinae ZN1 had demonstrated its excellent capacity on degrading lignocellulose derived inhibitors and helped the fermentation processes to achieve high yield of ethanol and biochemicals. Analysis of the biological degradation performance of furfural and HMF by A. resinae ZN1 will provide essential information for their fast and complete removal from the pretreated lignocellulose materials and facilitate the consequent ethanol fermentation.
The degradation performance of furfural and HMF by A. resinae ZN1 was investigated by capturing intermediate metabolic products at various culture conditions. A. resinae ZN1 converts furfural/HMF into furfuryl/HMF alcohols and furoic/HMF acids simultaneously at aerobic condition, and only the corresponding furfuryl/HMF alcohols are obtained at anaerobic condition. The existence of glucose accelerates the degradation rate of furfural and HMF by A. resinae ZN1 and the cell mass growth rate aerobically. Remarkably, glucose is not consumed before furfural or HMF is degraded to a low threshold concentration. The finding suggests that furfural or HMF has a substrate priority of utilization by A. resinae ZN1 than glucose. This property may help the detoxification of furfural and HMF to be operated without consuming glucose.
The biological degradation performance of furfural and HMF by A. resinae ZN1 was investigated experimentally. Oxygen supply is important on the complete biodegradation of furfural and HMF by A. resinae ZN1. Furfural or HMF has the priority of substrate utilization than glucose by A. resinae ZN1. This study provided important information for detoxification enhancement and strain modification.
PMCID: PMC4101820  PMID: 24708699
Biodegradation; furfural; 5-hydroxymethylfurfural; Amorphotheca resinae ZN1; lignocellulose; pretreatment; oxygen supply; substrate priority
23.  Comparison of Scheffersomyces stipitis strains CBS 5773 and CBS 6054 with regard to their xylose metabolism: implications for xylose fermentation 
MicrobiologyOpen  2012;1(1):64-70.
The various strains of Scheffersomyces stipitis (Pichia stipitis) differ substantially with respect to their ability to ferment xylose into ethanol. Two P. stipitis strains CBS 5773 and CBS 6054 have been most often used in literature but comparison of their performance in xylose fermentation under identical conditions has not been reported so far. Conversion of xylose (22 g/L) by each of these P. stipitis strain was analyzed under anaerobic and microaerobic conditions. Ethanol yields of ∼0.41 g/g were independent of strain and conditions used. Glycerol and acetate were formed in constant yields of 0.006 g/g and 0.02 g/g, respectively. Xylitol formation decreased from ∼0.08 g/g to ∼0.05 g/g upon switch from anaerobic to microaerobic conditions. Specific activities of enzymes of the two-step oxidoreductive xylose conversion pathway (xylose reductase and xylitol dehydrogenase) matched for both strains within limits of error. When xylose was offered at 76 g/L under microaerobic reaction conditions, ethanol yields were still high (0.37–0.39 g/g) for both strains even though the xylitol yields (0.12–0.13 g/g) were increased as compared to the conditions of low xylose concentration. P. stipitis strains CBS 5773 and CBS 6054 are therefore identical by the criteria selected and show useful performance during conversion of xylose into ethanol, irrespective of the supply of oxygen.
PMCID: PMC3426399  PMID: 22950013
CBS 5773; CBS 6054; ethanol; Pichia stipitis; Scheffersomyces stipitis; xylose
24.  Effect of Oxygenation on Xylose Fermentation by Pichia stipitis 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  1990;56(11):3389-3394.
The effect of oxygen limitation on xylose fermentation by Pichia stipitis (CBS 6054) was investigated in continuous culture. The maximum specific ethanol productivity (0.20 g of ethanol g dry weight−1 h−1) and ethanol yield (0.48 g/g) was reached at an oxygen transfer rate below 1 mmol/liter per h. In the studied range of oxygenation, the xylose reductase (EC and xylitol dehydrogenase (EC activities were constant as well as the ratio between the NADPH and NADH activities of xylose reductase. No xylitol production was found. The pyruvate decarboxylase (EC activity increased and the malate dehydrogenase (EC activity decreased with decreasing oxygenation. With decreasing oxygenation, the intracellular intermediary metabolites sedoheptulose 7-phosphate, glucose 6-phosphate, fructose 1,6-diphosphate, and malate accumulated slightly while pyruvate decreased. The ratio of the xylose uptake rate under aerobic conditions, in contrast to that under anaerobic assay conditions, increased with increasing oxygenation in the culture. The results are discussed in relation to the energy level in the cell, the redox balance, and the mitochondrial function.
PMCID: PMC184958  PMID: 16348343
25.  Expression of a heat-stable NADPH-dependent alcohol dehydrogenase in Caldicellulosiruptor bescii results in furan aldehyde detoxification 
Compounds such as furfural and 5-hydroxymethylfurfural (5-HMF) are generated through the dehydration of xylose and glucose, respectively, during dilute-acid pretreatment of lignocellulosic biomass and are also potent microbial growth and fermentation inhibitors. The enzymatic reduction of these furan aldehydes to their corresponding, and less toxic, alcohols is an engineering approach that has been successfully implemented in both Saccharomyces cerevisiae and ethanologenic Escherichia coli, but has not yet been investigated in thermophiles relevant to biofuel production through consolidated bioprocessing (CBP). Developing CBP-relevant biocatalysts that are either naturally resistant to such inhibitors, or are amenable to engineered resistance, is therefore, an important component in making biofuels production from lignocellulosic biomass feasible.
A butanol dehydrogenase encoding gene from Thermoanaerobacter pseudethanolicus 39E (Teth39_1597), previously shown to have furfural and 5-HMF reducing capabilities, was cloned into a suicide plasmid, pDCW171 and transformed into a lactate dehydrogenase mutant of Caldicellulosiruptor bescii. Integration of the gene into the C. bescii chromosome was verified via PCR amplification and stable expression was observed up to 75°C. Heterologous expression of the NADPH-dependent BdhA enzyme conferred increased resistance of the engineered strain to both furfural and 5-HMF relative to the wild-type and parental strains. Further, when challenged with 15 mM concentrations of either furan aldehyde, the ability to eliminate furfural or 5-HMF from the culture medium was significantly improved in the engineered strain.
A genetically engineered strain of C. bescii (JWCB044) has been constructed that shows both an improved tolerance to furan aldehydes and an improved ability to eliminate furfural and 5-HMF from the culture medium. The work presented here represents the first example of engineering furan aldehyde resistance into a CBP-relevant thermophile and further validates C. bescii as being a genetically tractable microbe of importance for lignocellulosic biofuel production.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13068-015-0287-y) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4511240  PMID: 26203301
Thermophile; Pretreatment; Lignocellulose; Biofuel; Butanol dehydrogenase; Furfural; 5-hydroxymethylfurfural; Inhibitor; Genetic engineering; Caldicellulosiruptor bescii

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