Mimicked Mixing-Induced Heterogeneities of Industrial Bioreactors Stimulate Long-Lasting Adaption Programs in Ethanol-Producing Yeasts

Steven Minden, Maria Aniolek, Henk Noorman, Ralf Takors

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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Commercial-scale bioreactors create an unnatural environment for microbes from an evolutionary point of view. Mixing insufficiencies expose individual cells to fluctuating nutrient concentrations on a second-to-minute scale while transcriptional and translational capacities limit the microbial adaptation time from minutes to hours. This mismatch carries the risk of inadequate adaptation effects, especially considering that nutrients are available at optimal concentrations on average. Consequently, industrial bioprocesses that strive to maintain microbes in a phenotypic sweet spot, during lab-scale development, might suffer performance losses when said adaptive misconfigurations arise during scale-up. Here, we investigated the influence of fluctuating glucose availability on the gene-expression profile in the industrial yeast Ethanol Red™. The stimulus-response experiment introduced 2 min glucose depletion phases to cells growing under glucose limitation in a chemostat. Even though Ethanol Red™ displayed robust growth and productivity, a single 2 min depletion of glucose transiently triggered the environmental stress response. Furthermore, a new growth phenotype with an increased ribosome portfolio emerged after complete adaptation to recurring glucose shortages. The results of this study serve a twofold purpose. First, it highlights the necessity to consider the large-scale environment already at the experimental development stage, even when process-related stressors are moderate. Second, it allowed the deduction of strain engineering guidelines to optimize the genetic background of large-scale production hosts.

Original languageEnglish
Article number997
Number of pages23
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • bioreactor
  • Ethanol Red™
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae
  • scale-down
  • scale-up
  • stimulus–response experiment
  • substrate gradient
  • transcriptomics

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