Performing in spite of starvation: How Saccharomyces cerevisiae maintains robust growth when facing famine zones in industrial bioreactors

Steven Minden, Maria Aniolek, Henk Noorman, Ralf Takors*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
26 Downloads (Pure)


In fed-batch operated industrial bioreactors, glucose-limited feeding is commonly applied for optimal control of cell growth and product formation. Still, microbial cells such as yeasts and bacteria are frequently exposed to glucose starvation conditions in poorly mixed zones or far away from the feedstock inlet point. Despite its commonness, studies mimicking related stimuli are still underrepresented in scale-up/scale-down considerations. This may surprise as the transition from glucose limitation to starvation has the potential to provoke regulatory responses with negative consequences for production performance. In order to shed more light, we performed gene-expression analysis of Saccharomyces cerevisiae grown in intermittently fed chemostat cultures to study the effect of limitation-starvation transitions. The resulting glucose concentration gradient was representative for the commercial scale and compelled cells to tolerate about 76 s with sub-optimal substrate supply. Special attention was paid to the adaptation status of the population by discriminating between first time and repeated entry into the starvation regime. Unprepared cells reacted with a transiently reduced growth rate governed by the general stress response. Yeasts adapted to the dynamic environment by increasing internal growth capacities at the cost of rising maintenance demands by 2.7%. Evidence was found that multiple protein kinase A (PKA) and Snf1-mediated regulatory circuits were initiated and ramped down still keeping the cells in an adapted trade-off between growth optimization and down-regulation of stress response. From this finding, primary engineering guidelines are deduced to optimize both the production host's genetic background and the design of scale-down experiments.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)148-168
JournalMicrobial Biotechnology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2022


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