In this study, the carotenogenic yeast Rhodosporidium toruloides was examined for its ability to convert
lignocellulose into two non-native sesquiterpenes with biofuel (bisabolene) and pharmaceutical (amorphadiene)
applications. We found that R. toruloides can efficiently convert a mixture of glucose and xylose from hydrolyzed
lignocellulose into these bioproducts, and unlike many conventional production hosts, its growth and productivity
were enhanced in lignocellulosic hydrolysates relative to purifed substrates. This organism was demonstrated to have superior growth in corn stover hydrolysates prepared by two different pretreatment methods, one using a novel bio-
compatible ionic liquid (IL) choline α-ketoglutarate, which produced 261 mg/L of bisabolene at bench scale, and the other using an alkaline pretreatment, which produced 680 mg/L of bisabolene in a high-gravity fed-batch bioreactor.
This study highlights the natural compatibility of Rhodosporium toruloides with bioprocess conditions relevant to lignocellulosic biorefneries and demonstrates its ability to produce non-native terpenes.