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Xylose Fermentation by Saccharomyces cerevisiae: Challenges and Prospects

Departamento de Biologia Celular, Universidade de Brasília, Brasília, DF 70910-900, Brazil
Petrobras Research and Development Center, Biotechnology Management, Rio de Janeiro, RJ 21941-915, Brazil
Embrapa Agroenergia, Laboratório de Genética e Biotecnologia, Parque Estação Biológica s/n, Av. W3 Norte, Brasília, DF 70770-901, Brazil
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: ChulHee Kang
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2016, 17(3), 207;
Received: 30 November 2015 / Revised: 23 January 2016 / Accepted: 27 January 2016 / Published: 25 February 2016
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biofuel)
Many years have passed since the first genetically modified Saccharomyces cerevisiae strains capable of fermenting xylose were obtained with the promise of an environmentally sustainable solution for the conversion of the abundant lignocellulosic biomass to ethanol. Several challenges emerged from these first experiences, most of them related to solving redox imbalances, discovering new pathways for xylose utilization, modulation of the expression of genes of the non-oxidative pentose phosphate pathway, and reduction of xylitol formation. Strategies on evolutionary engineering were used to improve fermentation kinetics, but the resulting strains were still far from industrial application. Lignocellulosic hydrolysates proved to have different inhibitors derived from lignin and sugar degradation, along with significant amounts of acetic acid, intrinsically related with biomass deconstruction. This, associated with pH, temperature, high ethanol, and other stress fluctuations presented on large scale fermentations led the search for yeasts with more robust backgrounds, like industrial strains, as engineering targets. Some promising yeasts were obtained both from studies of stress tolerance genes and adaptation on hydrolysates. Since fermentation times on mixed-substrate hydrolysates were still not cost-effective, the more selective search for new or engineered sugar transporters for xylose are still the focus of many recent studies. These challenges, as well as under-appreciated process strategies, will be discussed in this review. View Full-Text
Keywords: xylose; lignocellulosic ethanol; fermentation; Saccharomyces cerevisiae xylose; lignocellulosic ethanol; fermentation; Saccharomyces cerevisiae
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MDPI and ACS Style

Moysés, D.N.; Reis, V.C.B.; Almeida, J.R.M.; Moraes, L.M.P.; Torres, F.A.G. Xylose Fermentation by Saccharomyces cerevisiae: Challenges and Prospects. Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2016, 17, 207.

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