Bioenergy and Bioresource:Open Access

Hydrocarbon-degrading Yeasts

Yarrowia lipolytica is one of the most important non-conventional oleaginous yeasts. This review summarizes the recent advances in the taxonomy, physiology, growth requirements and environmental distribution of this particular yeast. It provides as well an extensive summary of its genomic features. Due to the remarkable potential to accumulate and modify lipids and the ability to grow on various hydrophobic substrates, Y. lipolytica has been now seriously considered as a bioconversion model for production of single-cell proteins, enzymes and lipid-derived compounds. Its presence in a variety of environments polluted with petroleum and in particular with its heavy fractions, witnesses its pivotal role in degradation of recalcitrant organic compounds. Some of them (naphthalene, dibenzofuran, and trinitrotoluene) have been already successfully tested and the process has proved to be functional. Y. lipolytica is also found in a variety of marine and hypersaline environments, thus the use of this yeast as a model system for salt-stress studies could be envisaged. Newly developed genetic tools and available genome sequence data will allow more complete exploration of this yeast in the areas of biocatalysis, bioconversion, and bioremediation. Yeasts capable of degrading hydrocarbons include genera of Yarrowia lipolytica, Candida tropicalis, Candida albicans, and Debaryomyces hansenii. The alkane-utilizing yeast Y. ... lipolytica is the predominant yeast form during alkane degradation and emulsifier production.

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