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Appl Microbiol Biotechnol. 2008 Jun;79(3):339-54. doi: 10.1007/s00253-008-1458-6. Epub 2008 Apr 22.

The yeast Kluyveromyces marxianus and its biotechnological potential.

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Department of Chemical Engineering, University of São Paulo, São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil.


Strains belonging to the yeast species Kluyveromyces marxianus have been isolated from a great variety of habitats, which results in a high metabolic diversity and a substantial degree of intraspecific polymorphism. As a consequence, several different biotechnological applications have been investigated with this yeast: production of enzymes (beta-galactosidase, beta-glucosidase, inulinase, and polygalacturonases, among others), of single-cell protein, of aroma compounds, and of ethanol (including high-temperature and simultaneous saccharification-fermentation processes); reduction of lactose content in food products; production of bioingredients from cheese-whey; bioremediation; as an anticholesterolemic agent; and as a host for heterologous protein production. Compared to its congener and model organism, Kluyveromyces lactis, the accumulated knowledge on K. marxianus is much smaller and spread over a number of different strains. Although there is no publicly available genome sequence for this species, 20% of the CBS 712 strain genome was randomly sequenced (Llorente et al. in FEBS Lett 487:71-75, 2000). In spite of these facts, K. marxianus can envisage a great biotechnological future because of some of its qualities, such as a broad substrate spectrum, thermotolerance, high growth rates, and less tendency to ferment when exposed to sugar excess, when compared to K. lactis. To increase our knowledge on the biology of this species and to enable the potential applications to be converted into industrial practice, a more systematic approach, including the careful choice of (a) reference strain(s) by the scientific community, would certainly be of great value.

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