ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: Sustainable and economically viable manufacturing of bioethanol from lignocellulose raw material is dependent on the availability of a robust ethanol producing microorganism, able to ferment all sugars present in the feedstock, including the pentose sugars L-arabinose and D-xylose. Saccharomyces cerevisiae is a robust ethanol producer, but needs to be engineered to achieve pentose sugar fermentation. RESULTS: A new recombinant S. cerevisiae strain expressing an improved fungal pathway for the utilization of L-arabinose and D-xylose was constructed and characterized. The new strain grew aerobically on L-arabinose and D-xylose as sole carbon sources. The activities of the enzymes constituting the pentose utilization pathway(s) and product formation during anaerobic mixed sugar fermentation were characterized. CONCLUSIONS: Pentose fermenting recombinant S. cerevisiae strains were obtained by the expression of a pentose utilization pathway of entirely fungal origin. During anaerobic fermentation the strain produced biomass and ethanol. L-arabitol yield was 0.48 g per gram of consumed pentose sugar, which is considerably less than previously reported for D-xylose reductase expressing strains co-fermenting L-arabinose and D-xylose, and the xylitol yield was 0.07 g per gram of consumed pentose sugar.
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