Phenotypic characterisation of Saccharomyces spp. for tolerance to 1-butanol

A. M. Zaki, T. T. Wimalasena, D. Greetham

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7 Citations (Scopus)


Biofuels are expected to play a role in replacing crude oil as a liquid transportation fuel, and research into butanol has highlighted the importance of this alcohol as a fuel. Butanol has a higher energy density than ethanol, butanol–gasoline blends do not separate in the presence of water, and butanol is miscible with gasoline (Szulczyk, Int J Energy Environ 1(1):2876–2895, 40). Saccharomyces cerevisiae has been used as a fermentative organism in the biofuel industry producing ethanol from glucose derived from starchy plant material; however, it typically cannot tolerate butanol concentrations greater than 2 % (Luong, Biotechnol Bioeng 29 (2):242–248, 27). 90 Saccharomyces spp. strains were screened for tolerance to 1-butanol via a phenotypic microarray assay and we observed significant variation in response with the most tolerant strains (S. cerevisiae DBVPG1788, S. cerevisiae DBVPG6044 and S. cerevisiae YPS128) exhibiting tolerance to 4 % 1-butanol compared with S. uvarum and S. castelli strains, which were sensitive to 3 % 1-butanol. Response to butanol was confirmed using traditional yeast methodologies such as growth; it was observed that fermentations in the presence of butanol, when using strains with a tolerant background, were significantly faster. Assessing for genetic rationale for tolerance, it was observed that 1-butanol-tolerant strains, when compared with 1-butanol-sensitive strains, had an up-regulation of RPN4, a transcription factor which regulates proteasome genes. Analysing for the importance of RPN4, we observed that a Δrpn4 strain displayed a reduced rate of fermentation in the presence of 1-butanol when compared with the BY4741 background strain. This data will aid the development of breeding programmes to produce better strains for future bio-butanol production.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1627-1636
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Industrial Microbiology and Biotechnology
Issue number11
Early online date23 Sep 2014
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2014
Externally publishedYes


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