The introduction of pentose utilization pathways in baker's yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae is summarized together with metabolic engineering strategies to improve ethanolic pentose fermentation. Bacterial and fungal xylose and arabinose pathways have been expressed in S. cerevisiae but do not generally convey significant ethanolic fermentation traits to this yeast. A large number of rational metabolic engineering strategies directed among others toward sugar transport, initial pentose conversion, the pentose phosphate pathway, and the cellular redox metabolism have been exploited. The directed metabolic engineering approach has often been combined with random approaches including adaptation, mutagenesis, and hybridization. The knowledge gained about pentose fermentation in S. cerevisiae is primarily limited to genetically and physiologically well-characterized laboratory strains. The translation of this knowledge to strains performing in an industrial context is discussed.
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