PHB production from cellobiose with Saccharomyces cerevisiae

Anna Ylinen (Corresponding Author), Jorg C. De Ruijter, Paula Jouhten, Merja Penttilä

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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Replacement of petrochemical-based materials with microbially produced biodegradable alternatives calls for industrially attractive fermentation processes. Lignocellulosic materials offer non-edible alternatives for cultivated sugars, but require often use of expensive sugar releasing enzymes, such as β-glucosidases. These cellulose treatment costs could be reduced if microbial production hosts could use short cellodextrins such as cellobiose directly as their substrates. In this study, we demonstrate production of poly(hydroxybutyrate) (PHB) in yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae using cellobiose as a sole carbon source. Yeast strains expressing PHB pathway genes from Cupriavidus necator and cellodextrin transporter gene CDT-1 from Neurospora crassa were complemented either with β-glucosidase gene GH1-1 from N. crassa or with cellobiose phosphorylase gene cbp from Ruminococcus flavefaciens. These cellobiose utilization routes either with Gh1-1 or Cbp enzymes differ in energetics and dynamics. However, both routes enabled higher PHB production per consumed sugar and higher PHB accumulation % of cell dry weight (CDW) than use of glucose as a carbon source. As expected, the strains with Gh1-1 consumed cellobiose faster than the strains with Cbp, both in flask and bioreactor batch cultures. In shake flasks, higher final PHB accumulation % of CDW was reached with Cbp route (10.0 ± 0.3%) than with Gh1-1 route (8.1 ± 0.2%). However, a higher PHB accumulation was achieved in better aerated and pH-controlled bioreactors, in comparison to shake flasks, and the relative performance of strains switched. In bioreactors, notable PHB accumulation levels per CDW of 13.4 ± 0.9% and 18.5 ± 3.9% were achieved with Cbp and Gh1-1 routes, respectively. The average molecular weights of accumulated PHB were similar using both routes; approximately 500 kDa and 450 kDa for strains expressing either cbp or GH1-1 genes, respectively. The formation of PHB with high molecular weights, combined with efficient cellobiose conversion, demonstrates a highly potential solution for improving attractiveness of sustainable polymer production using microbial cells.
Original languageEnglish
Article number124
JournalMicrobial Cell Factories
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 21 Jun 2022
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Carbon/metabolism
  • Cellobiose/metabolism
  • Fermentation
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae/genetics
  • beta-Glucosidase/metabolism
  • Cellobiose phosphorylase
  • Cellobiose
  • Polyhydroxybutyrate
  • β-glucosidase
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae


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