Yeast as a production platform in biorefineries: conversion of agricultural residues into value-added products
University of Applied Sciences Upper Austria, School of Engineering, Stelzhamerstraße 23, AT4600 Wels, Austria
In contrast to a petroleum-based economy, which relies on the unlimited presence of fossil fuels, a biobased economy utilizes a broad spectrum of natural crops and biomass as raw substrates for the production of valuable materials. Biorefineries represent a promising approach for the co-production of bioenergy (biofuels, biogas) and value-added products (biochemicals, biomaterials, food). Within Europe, wheat straw represents the major crop residue and has been extensively considered as a promising feedstock in the biorefining process. Firstly, wheat straw is hydrolysed to obtain a sugar solution that is further converted into the desired product in a biocatalytic manner. Microbial fermentation is the core component of biorefineries and yeast, as for instance Candida guilliermondii, is an effective production platform for both, biofuels and biochemicals. One limiting aspect in using yeast in the biorefinery approach is the presence of inhibitors in lignocellulosic hydrolysates, such as acetic acid or furfural, influencing cellular growth and diverse metabolic processes. In order to overcome this problem, several genetic engineering approaches are used to increase yeast resistance towards these inhibitors and to enhance the overall production. In this paper, we summarized: 1) the pretreatment technologies for wheat straw bioconversion; 2) the Candida guilliermondii genetic engineering technologies and their biotechnological potential. In conclusion, biorefineries are a crucial factor in the transition towards a biobased and circular economy, and the implementation of yeast into this system offers a great opportunity to develop innovative strategies for a sustainable production in an environmentally friendly and economically feasible manner.