Yeast as a cell factory: current state and perspectives

Yeast as a cell factory: current state and perspectives

The yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae is one of the oldest and most frequently used microorganisms in biotechnology with successful applications in the production of both bulk and fine chemicals. Yet, yeast researchers are faced with the challenge to further its transition from the old workhorse to a modern cell factory, fulfilling the requirements for next generation bioprocesses. Many of the principles and tools that are applied for this development originate from the field of synthetic biology and the engineered strains will indeed be synthetic organisms. We provide an overview of the most important aspects of this transition and highlight achievements in recent years as well as trends in which yeast currently lags behind. These aspects include: the enhancement of the substrate spectrum of yeast, with the focus on the efficient utilization of renewable feedstocks, the enhancement of the product spectrum through generation of independent circuits for the maintenance of redox balances and biosynthesis of common carbon building blocks, the requirement for accurate pathway control with improved genome editing and through orthogonal promoters, and improvement of the tolerance of yeast for specific stress conditions. The causative genetic elements for the required traits of the future yeast cell factories will be assembled into genetic modules for fast transfer between strains. These developments will benefit from progress in bio-computational methods, which allow for the integration of different kinds of data sets and algorithms, and from rapid advancement in genome editing, which will enable multiplexed targeted integration of whole heterologous pathways. The overall goal will be to provide a collection of modules and circuits that work independently and can be combined at will, depending on the individual conditions, and will result in an optimal synthetic host for a given production process.

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