Low-cost lipid production by an oleaginous yeast cultured in non-sterile conditions using model waste resources

F Santomauro, Fraeya Whiffin, R J Scott, C Chuck

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

128 Citations (SciVal)
170 Downloads (Pure)


The yeast Metschnikowia pulcherrima, previously utilised as a biological control agent, was evaluated for its potential to produce lipids for biofuel production.
Cultivation in low cost non-sterile conditions was achieved by exploiting its ability to grow at low temperature and pH and to produce natural antimicrobial compounds. Although not previously classified as oleaginous, a combination of low temperature and restricted nutrient availability triggered high levels of oil production in M. pulcherrima cultures. This regime was designed to trigger the sporulation process but prevent its completion to allow the accumulation of a subset of a normally transitional, but oil-rich, ‘pulcherrima’ cell type. This approach resulted in yields of up to 40% lipid, which compares favourably with other oleaginous microbes. We also demonstrate that M. pulcherrima metabolises glycerol and a diverse range of other sugars, suggesting that heterogeneous biomass could provide a suitable carbon source. M. pulcherrima also grows well in a minimal media containing no yeast extract. Finally, we demonstrate the potential of the yeast to produce lipids inexpensively on an industrial scale by culturing the yeast in a 500L, open air, tank reactor without any significant contamination.
The production of antimicrobial compounds coupled to efficient growth at low temperature and pH enables culture of this oleaginous yeast in inexpensive, non-sterile conditions providing a potential route to economic biofuel production.
Original languageEnglish
Article number34
Pages (from-to)34-43
Number of pages10
JournalBiotechnology for Biofuels
Publication statusPublished - 4 Mar 2014


  • biodiesel
  • lipid
  • yeast
  • heterotrophic
  • pilot scale
  • waste


Dive into the research topics of 'Low-cost lipid production by an oleaginous yeast cultured in non-sterile conditions using model waste resources'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this