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New kids on the block: emerging oleaginous yeast of biotechnological importance

Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Clemson University, Clemson SC 29634, USA

† These authors contributed equally to this work.

Topical Section: Yeast Functional Genomics

There is growing interest in using oleaginous yeast for the production of a variety of fatty acids and fatty acid-derived oleochemicals. This is motivated by natural propensity for high flux through lipid biosynthesis that has naturally evolved, making them a logical starting point for additional genetic engineering to improve titers and productivities. Much of the academic and industrial focus has centered on yeast that have significant genetic engineering tool capabilities, such as Yarrowia lipolytica, and those that have naturally high lipid accumulation, such as Rhodosporidium toruloides and Lipomyces starkeyi; however, there are oleaginous yeast with phenotypes better aligned with typically inhibitory process conditions, such as high salt concentrations and lignocellulosic derived inhibitors. This review addresses the foundational work in characterizing two emerging oleaginous yeast of interest: Debaryomyces hansenii and Trichosporon oleaginosus. We focus on the physiological and metabolic properties of these yeast that make each attractive for bioprocessing of lignocellulose to fuels and chemicals, discuss their respective genetic engineering tools and highlight the critical barriers facing the broader implementation of these oleaginous yeast.
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