Development of a phenotypic assay for characterisation of ethanologenic yeast strain sensitivity to inhibitors released from lignocellulosic feedstocks

D. Greetham, T. Wimalasena, D. W.M. Kerruish, S. Brindley, R. N. Ibbett, R. L. Linforth, G. Tucker, T. G. Phister, K. A. Smart

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18 Citations (Scopus)


Inhibitors released by the breakdown of plant cell walls prevent efficient conversion of sugar into ethanol. The aim of this study was to develop a fast and reliable inhibitor sensitivity assay for ethanologenic yeast strains. The assay comprised bespoke 96-well plates containing inhibitors in isolation or combination in a format that was compatible with the Phenotypic Microarray Omnilog reader (Biolog, hayward, CA, USA). A redox reporter within the assay permits analysis of inhibitor sensitivity in aerobic and/or anaerobic conditions. Results from the assay were verified using growth on spot plates and tolerance assays in which maintenance of viability was assessed. The assay allows for individual and synergistic effects of inhibitors to be determined. It was observed that the presence of both acetic and formic acid significantly inhibited the yeast strains assessed, although this impact could be partially mitigated by buffering to neutral pH. Scheffersomyces stipitis, Candida spp., and Pichia guilliermondii demonstrated increased sensitivity to short chain weak acids at concentrations typically present in lignocellulosic hydrolysates. S. cerevisiae exhibited robustness to short chain weak acids at these concentrations. However, S. stipitis, Candida spp., and P. guilliermondii displayed increased tolerance to HMF when compared to that observed for S. cerevisiae. The results demonstrate that the phenotypic microarray assay developed in the current study is a valuable tool that can be used to identify yeast strains with desirable resistance to inhibitory compounds found in lignocellulosic hydrolysates.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)931-945
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Industrial Microbiology and Biotechnology
Issue number6
Early online date25 Mar 2014
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2014
Externally publishedYes


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