Towards the design of an optimal strategy for the production of ergosterol from Saccharomyces cerevisiae yeasts



The total yield of ergosterol produced by the fermentation of the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae depends on the final amount of yeast biomass and the ergosterol content in the cells. At the same time ergosterol purity—defined as percentage of ergosterol in the total sterols in the yeast—is equally important for efficient downstream processing. This study investigated the development of both the ergosterol content and ergosterol purity in different physiological (metabolic) states of the microorganism S. cerevisiae with the aim of reaching maximal ergosterol productivity. To expose the yeast culture to different physiological states during fermentation an on-line inference of the current physiological state of the culture was used. The results achieved made it possible to design a new production strategy, which consists of two preferable metabolic states, oxidative-fermentative growth on glucose followed by oxidative growth on glucose and ethanol simultaneously. Experimental application of this strategy achieved a value of the total efficiency of ergosterol production (defined as product of ergosterol yield coefficient and volumetric productivity), 103.84 × 10−6 g L−1h−1, more than three times higher than with standard baker's yeast fed-batch cultivations, which attained in average 32.14 × 10−6 g L−1h−1. At the same time the final content of ergosterol in dry biomass was 2.43%, with a purity 86%. These results make the product obtained by the proposed control strategy suitable for effective down-stream processing. © 2017 American Institute of Chemical Engineers Biotechnol. Prog., 33:838–848, 2017