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Background: Compared to the oleaginous yeast Yarrowia lipolytica, Trichosporon cutaneum can metabolize pentose sugars more efficiently, and in the meantime is more tolerant to inhibitors, which is suitable for lipid production from lignocellulosic biomass. However, this species experiences dimorphic transition between yeast-form cells and hyphae during submerged fermentation, which consequently affects the rheology and mass transfer performance of the fermentation broth and its lipid production. Results: The strain T. cutaneum B3 was cultured with medium composed of yeast extract, glucose and basic minerals. The experimental results indicated that yeast-form morphology was developed when yeast extract was supplemented at 1 g/L, but hyphae were observed when yeast extract supplementation was increased to 3 g/L and 5 g/L, respectively. We speculated that difference in nitrogen supply to the medium might be a major reason for the dimorphic transition, which was confirmed by the culture with media supplemented with yeast extract at 1 g/L and urea at 0.5 g/L and 1.0 g/L to maintain total nitrogen at same levels as that detected in the media with yeast extract supplemented at 3 g/L and 5 g/L. The morphological change of T. cutaneum B3 affected not only the content of intracellular lipids but also their composition, due to its impact on the rheology and oxygen mass transfer performance of the fermentation broth, and more lipids with less polyunsaturated fatty acids such as linoleic acid (C18:2) were produced by the yeast-form cells. When T. cutaneum B3 was cultured at an aeration rate of 1.5 vvm for 72 h with the medium composed of 60 g/L glucose, 3 g/L yeast extract and basic minerals, 27.1 g (dry cell weight)/L biomass was accumulated with the lipid content of 46.2%, and lipid productivity and yield were calculated to be 0.174 g/L/h and 0.21 g/g, respectively. Comparative transcriptomics analysis identified differently expressed genes for sugar metabolism and lipid synthesis as well as signal transduction for the dimorphic transition of T. cutaneum B3. Conclusions: Assimilable nitrogen was validated as one of the major reasons for the dimorphic transition between yeast-form morphology and hyphae with T. cutaneum, and the yeast-form morphology was more suitable for lipid production at high content with less polyunsaturated fatty acids as feedstock for biodiesel production.
Wang, Y., Yan, R., Tang, L., Zhu, L., Zhu, D., & Bai, F. (2019). Dimorphism of Trichosporon cutaneum and impact on its lipid production. Biotechnology for Biofuels, 12(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s13068-019-1543-3