Lactose fermentation by engineered Saccharomyces cerevisiae capable of fermenting cellobiose

Jing Jing Liu, Guo Chang Zhang, Eun Joong Oh, Panchalee Pathanibul, Timothy L. Turner, Yong Su Jin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Lactose is an inevitable byproduct of the dairy industry. In addition to cheese manufacturing, the growing Greek yogurt industry generates excess acid whey, which contains lactose. Therefore, rapid and efficient conversion of lactose to fuels and chemicals would be useful for recycling the otherwise harmful acid whey. Saccharomyces cerevisiae, a popular metabolic engineering host, cannot natively utilize lactose. However, we discovered that an engineered S. cerevisiae strain (EJ2) capable of fermenting cellobiose can also ferment lactose. This finding suggests that a cellobiose transporter (CDT-1) can transport lactose and a β-glucosidase (GH1-1) can hydrolyze lactose by acting as a β-galactosidase. While the lactose fermentation by the EJ2 strain was much slower than the cellobiose fermentation, a faster lactose-fermenting strain (EJ2e8) was obtained through serial subcultures on lactose. The EJ2e8 strain fermented lactose with a consumption rate of 2.16 g/L h. The improved lactose fermentation by the EJ2e8 strain was due to the increased copy number of cdt-1 and gh1-1 genes. Looking ahead, the EJ2e8 strain could be exploited for the production of other non-ethanol fuels and chemicals from lactose through further metabolic engineering.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)99-104
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Biotechnology
StatePublished - Sep 20 2016


  • Adaptive evolution
  • Lactose fermentation
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae
  • cdt-1
  • gh1-1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Bioengineering
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology


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