Enhanced biotransformation of furfural and hydroxymethylfurfural by newly developed ethanologenic yeast strains

Z. Lewis Liu, Patricia J. Slininger, Steve W. Gorsich

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189 Scopus citations


Furfural and hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF) are representative inhibitors among many inhibitive compounds derived from biomass degradation and saccharification for bioethanol fermentation. Most yeasts, including industrial strains, are susceptible to these inhibitory compounds, especially when multiple inhibitors are present. Additional detoxification steps add cost and complexity to the process and generate additional waste products. To promote efficient bioethanol production, we studied the mechanisms of stress tolerance, particularly to fermentation inhibitors such as furfural and HMF. We recently reported a metabolite of 2,5-bis-hydroxymethylfuran as a conversion product of HMF and characterized a dose-dependent response of ethanologenic yeasts to inhibitors. In this study, we present newly adapted strains that demonstrated higher levels of tolerance to furfural and HMF. Saccharomyces cerevisiae 307-12H60 and 307-12H120 and Pichia stipitis 30710H60 showed enhanced biotransformation ability to reduce HMF to 2,5-bis-hydroxymethylfuran at 30 and 60 mM, and S. cerevisiae 307-12-F40 converted furfural into furfuryl alcohol at significantly higher rates compared to the parental strains. Strains of S. cerevisiae converted 100% of HMF at 60 mM and S. cerevisiae 307-12-F40 converted 100% of furfural into furfuryl alcohol at 30 mM. The results of this study suggest a possible in situ detoxification of the inhibitors by using more inhibitor-tolerant yeast strains for bioethanol fermentation. The development of such tolerant strains provided a basis and useful materials for further studies on the mechanisms of stress tolerance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)451-460
Number of pages10
JournalApplied Biochemistry and Biotechnology
Issue number1-3
StatePublished - 2005


  • 2,5-bis-hydroxymethylfuran
  • Biotransformation
  • Furfural
  • Furfuryl alcohol
  • Hydroxymethylfurfural


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