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Molecular and physiological basis of Saccharomyces cerevisiae tolerance to adverse lignocellulose-based process conditions

Cunha, Joana T., Romaní, Aloia, Costa, Carlos E., Sá-Correia, Isabel, Domingues, Lucília
Applied microbiology and biotechnology 2019 v.103 no.1 pp. 159-175
Saccharomyces cerevisiae, acids, biomass, biorefining, biotransformation, ethanol production, fermentation, furans, lignocellulose, pentoses, petroleum, phenolic compounds, raw materials, saccharification, synergism, temperature, xylose, yeasts
Lignocellulose-based biorefineries have been gaining increasing attention to substitute current petroleum-based refineries. Biomass processing requires a pretreatment step to break lignocellulosic biomass recalcitrant structure, which results in the release of a broad range of microbial inhibitors, mainly weak acids, furans, and phenolic compounds. Saccharomyces cerevisiae is the most commonly used organism for ethanol production; however, it can be severely distressed by these lignocellulose-derived inhibitors, in addition to other challenging conditions, such as pentose sugar utilization and the high temperatures required for an efficient simultaneous saccharification and fermentation step. Therefore, a better understanding of the yeast response and adaptation towards the presence of these multiple stresses is of crucial importance to design strategies to improve yeast robustness and bioconversion capacity from lignocellulosic biomass. This review includes an overview of the main inhibitors derived from diverse raw material resultants from different biomass pretreatments, and describes the main mechanisms of yeast response to their presence, as well as to the presence of stresses imposed by xylose utilization and high-temperature conditions, with a special emphasis on the synergistic effect of multiple inhibitors/stressors. Furthermore, successful cases of tolerance improvement of S. cerevisiae are highlighted, in particular those associated with other process-related physiologically relevant conditions. Decoding the overall yeast response mechanisms will pave the way for the integrated development of sustainable yeast cell–based biorefineries.