Combining inhibitor tolerance and D-xylose fermentation in industrial saccharomyces cerevisiae for efficient lignocellulose-based bioethanol production

Mekonnen M. Demeke, Françoise Dumortier, Yingying Li, Tom Broeckx, María R. Foulquié-Moreno, Johan M. Thevelein

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78 Citations (Scopus)


Background: 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. Results: 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. Conclusions: 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.

Original languageEnglish
Article number120
Number of pages17
JournalBiotechnology for Biofuels
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 26 Aug 2013


  • bioethanol production
  • inhibitor tolerance
  • meiotic recombination
  • pentose utilization
  • saccharomyces cerevisiae
  • spruce hydrolysate
  • very-high gravity fermentation


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