Improvement of yeasts as cell factories for organic acids bioproduction: the role of plasma membrane transporters.

Academic partners: UMinho, Braga, Portugal; JUB, Bremen, Germany
Industry Partner: Biotrend, Portugal

Microbial production of organic acids has become an emerging field due to the increasing role of these compounds as platform chemicals. Organic acids are among the top 12 chemical building blocks produced by yeasts cell factories from bio-feed-stocks in biotechnology industries. This requires the integration of a vast knowledge on biochemical processes and protein structure, to efficiently engineer the enzymatic machinery of the cell. Currently, a key issue of organic acid production in yeast cell factories is to improve its export through the plasma membrane, increasing the flux towards extracellular product formation. In this project genome-mining approaches will be used to identify suitable candidate organic acid transporters. Saccharomyces cerevisiae strains will be engineered for the production of biotechnological relevant acids, through the expression of candidate transporters in metabolically engineered strains. Functional testing of medium-throughput assays will be implemented. The performance of cell-factory yeast strains will be assessed through scale-up from lab to pilot-scale fermenters at the industry partner.