Analyzing redox balance in a synthetic yeast platform to improve utilization of brown macroalgae as feedstock

Contador, C. A., Shene, C., Olivera, A., Yoshikuni, Y., Buschmann, A., Andrews, B.A, and Asenjo, J.A. (2015), Analyzing redox balance in a synthetic yeast platform to improve utilization of brown macroalgae as feedstock. Metab. Engin. Comm., 2, 76-84.


Macroalgae have high potential to be an efficient, and sustainable feedstock for the production of biofuels and other more valuable chemicals. Attempts have been made to enable the co-fermentation of alginate and mannitol by Saccharomyces cerevisiae to unlock the full potential of this marine biomass. However, the efficient use of the sugars derived from macroalgae depends on the equilibrium of cofactors derived from the alginate and mannitol catabolic pathways. There are a number of strong metabolic limitations that have to be tackled before this bioconversion can be carried out efficiently by engineered yeast cells.
An analysis of the redox balance during ethanol fermentation from alginate and mannitol by Saccharomyces cerevisiae using metabolic engineering tools was carried out. To represent the strain designed for conversion of macroalgae carbohydrates to ethanol, a context-specific model was derived from the available yeast genome-scale metabolic reconstructions. Flux balance analysis and dynamic simulations were used to determine the flux distributions. The model indicates that ethanol production is determined by the activity of 4-deoxy-l-erythro-5-hexoseulose uronate (DEHU) reductase (DehR) and its preferences for NADH or NADPH which influences strongly the flow of cellular resources. Different scenarios were explored to determine the equilibrium between NAD(H) and NADP(H) that will lead to increased ethanol yields on mannitol and DEHU under anaerobic conditions. When rates of mannitol dehydrogenase and DehR NADH tend to be close to a ratio in the range 1–1.6, high growth rates and ethanol yields were predicted. The analysis shows a number of metabolic limitations that are not easily identified through experimental procedures such as quantifying the impact of the cofactor preference by DEHU reductase in the system, the low flux into the alginate catabolic pathway, and a detailed analysis of the redox balance. These results show that production of ethanol and other chemicals can be optimized if a redox balance is achieved. A possible methodology to achieve this balance is presented. This paper shows how metabolic engineering tools are essential to comprehend and overcome this limitation. & 2015 Published by Elsevier B.V. on behalf of International Metabolic Engineering Society.