Kostas, Emily T., White, Daniel A., Du, Chenyu and Cooke, David J. (2015) Selection of yeast strains for bioethanol production from UK seaweeds. Journal of Applied Phycology. ISSN 0921-8971

Macroalgae (seaweeds) are a promising feedstock for the production of third generation bioethanol, since they have high carbohydrate contents, contain little or no lignin and are available in abundance. However, seaweeds typically contain a more diverse array of monomeric sugars than are commonly present in feedstocks derived from lignocellulosic material which are currently used for bioethanol production. Hence, identification of a suitable fermentative microorganism that can utilise the principal sugars released from the hydrolysis of macroalgae remains a major objective. The present study used a phenotypic microarray technique to screen 24 different yeast strains for their ability to metabolise individual monosaccharides commonly found in seaweeds, as well as hydrolysates following an acid pre-treatment of five native UK seaweed species (Laminaria digitata, Fucus serratus, Chondrus crispus, Palmaria palmata and Ulva lactuca). Five strains of yeast (three Saccharomyces spp, one Pichia sp and one Candida sp) were selected and subsequently evaluated for bioethanol production during fermentation of the hydrolysates. Four out of the five selected strains converted these monomeric sugars into bioethanol, with the highest ethanol yield (13 g L−1) resulting from a fermentation using C. crispus hydrolysate with Saccharomyces cerevisiae YPS128. This study demonstrated the novel application of a phenotypic microarray technique to screen for yeast capable of metabolising sugars present in seaweed hydrolysates; however, metabolic activity did not always imply fermentative production of ethanol.

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