Assessing the potential of wild yeasts for bioethanol production

Ruyters S, Mukherjee V, Verstrepen KJ, Thevelein JM, Willems KA, Lievens B.

J Ind Microbiol Biotechnol. Springer Berlin Heidelberg; 2015 Jan;42(1):39–48.

Yeast/Beer & Wine.

Bioethanol fermentations expose yeasts to a new, complex and challenging fermentation medium with specific inhibitors and sugar mixtures depending on the type of carbon source. It is, therefore, suggested that the natural diversity of yeasts should be further exploited in order to findyeasts with good ethanol yield in stressed fermentation media. In this study, we screened more than 50 yeast isolates of which we selected five isolates with promising features. The species Candida bombi, Wickerhamomyces anomalus and Torulaspora delbrueckii showed better osmo- and hydroxymethylfurfural tolerance than Saccharomyces cerevisiae. However, S. cerevisiae isolates had the highest ethanol yield in fermentation experiments mimicking high gravity fermentations (25 % glucose) and artificial lignocellulose hydrolysates (with a myriad of inhibitors). Interestingly, among two tested S. cerevisiae strains, a wild strain isolated from an oak tree performed better than Ethanol Red, a S. cerevisiae strain which is currently commonly used in industrial bioethanol fermentations. Additionally, a W. anomalus strain isolated from sugar beet thick juice was found to have a comparable ethanol yield, but needed longer fermentation time. Other non-Saccharomyces yeasts yielded lower ethanol amounts.