Short-term adaptation during propagation improves the performance of xylose-fermenting Saccharomyces cerevisiae in simultaneous saccharification and co-fermentation

Nielsen, F.; Tomás-Pejó, E.; Olsson, L.; Wallberg, O.

Biotechnology for Biofuels 8: 219


ISSN/ISBN: 1754-6834
PMID: 26697108
DOI: 10.1186/s13068-015-0399-4
Accession: 058846492

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Inhibitors that are generated during thermochemical pretreatment and hydrolysis impair the performance of microorganisms during fermentation of lignocellulosic hydrolysates. In omitting costly detoxification steps, the fermentation process relies extensively on the performance of the fermenting microorganism. One attractive option of improving its performance and tolerance to microbial inhibitors is short-term adaptation during propagation. This study determined the influence of short-term adaptation on the performance of recombinant Saccharomyces cerevisiae in simultaneous saccharification and co-fermentation (SSCF). The aim was to understand how short-term adaptation with lignocellulosic hydrolysate affects the cell mass yield of propagated yeast and performance in subsequent fermentation steps. The physiology of propagated yeast was examined with regard to viability, vitality, stress responses, and upregulation of relevant genes to identify any links between the beneficial traits that are promoted during adaptation and overall ethanol yields in co-fermentation. The presence of inhibitors during propagation significantly improved fermentation but lowered cell mass yield during propagation. Xylose utilization of adapted cultures was enhanced by increasing amounts of hydrolysate in the propagation. Ethanol yields improved by over 30 % with inhibitor concentrations that corresponded to ≥2.5 % water-insoluble solids (WIS) load during the propagation compared with the unadapted culture. Adaptation improved cell viability by >10 % and increased vitality by >20 %. Genes that conferred resistance against inhibitors were upregulated with increasing amounts of inhibitors during the propagation, but the adaptive response was not associated with improved ethanol yields in SSCF. The positive effects in SSCF were observed even with adaptation at inhibitor concentrations that corresponded to 2.5 % WIS. Higher amounts of hydrolysate in the propagation feed further improved the fermentation but increased the variability in fermentation outcomes and resulted in up to 20 % loss of cell mass yield. Short-term adaptation during propagation improves the tolerance of inhibitor-resistant yeast strains to inhibitors in lignocellulosic hydrolysates and improves their ethanol yield in fermentation and xylose-fermenting capacity. A low amount of hydrolysate (corresponding to 2.5 % WIS) is optimal, whereas higher amounts decrease cell mass yield during propagation.