Perspective: Indigenous sugarcane yeast strains as ideal biological platforms for the delivery of next generation biorefining technologies

In the industrial process used to convert sugarcane juice to bioethanol, the yeast cells responsible for the fermentation are often exposed to severe biotic and abiotic stresses. These include the constant entry of microbial contaminants into the system, prolonged cell recycling, ethanol toxicity, and osmotic, oxidative, and temperature stresses. In the past decade, several indigenous yeast strains have been isolated in Brazil that combine excellent adaptation to this hostile environment and high performance in bioethanol fermentation. Recent genetic studies have demonstrated that these strains have heterogeneous genome architectures, and established a strong link between this genomic complexity and their adaptation to the industrial environment. We propose a role for these highly adapted organisms as biological platforms for the delivery of a wide range of future biorefining technologies. By adopting genetic manipulation strategies that do not interfere with their genomic complexity, it should be possible create new yeast strains that are much more likely to succeed in large scale industrial applications.


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