How adaptive laboratory evolution can boost yeast tolerance to lignocellulosic hydrolyses

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2022-01-01

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The yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae is an excellent candidate for establishing cell factories to convert lignocellulosic biomass into chemicals and fuels. To enable this technology, yeast robustness must be improved to withstand the fermentation inhibitors (e.g., weak organic acids, phenols, and furan aldehydes) resulting from biomass pretreatment and hydrolysis. Here, we discuss how evolution experiments performed in the lab, a method commonly known as adaptive laboratory evolution (ALE), may contribute to lifting yeast tolerance against the inhibitors of lignocellulosic hydrolysates (LCHs). The key is that, through the combination of whole-genome sequencing and reverse engineering, ALE provides a robust platform for discovering and testing adaptive alleles, allowing to explore the genetic underpinnings of yeast responses to LCHs. We review the insights gained from past evolution experiments with S. cerevisiae in LCH inhibitors and propose experimental designs to optimise the discovery of genetic variants adaptive to biomass toxicity. The knowledge gathered through ALE projects is envisaged as a roadmap to engineer superior yeast strains for biomass-based bioprocesses.

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Current Genetics.

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