Thermotolerant ethanologenic yeasts receive attention as alternative bio-ethanol producers to traditionally used yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Their utilization is expected to provide several benefits for bio-ethanol production due to their characteristics and robustness. They have been isolated from a wide variety of environments in a number of ASEAN countries: Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, and Indonesia. One of these yeasts, Kluyveromyces marxianus has been investigated regarding characteristics. Some strains efficiently utilize xylose, which is a main component of the 2nd generation biomass. In addition, the genetic basis of K. marxianus has been revealed by genomic sequencing and is exploited for further improvement of the strains by thermal adaptation or gene engineering techniques. Moreover, the glucose repression of K. marxianus and its mechanisms has been investigated. Results suggest that K. marxianus is an alternative to S. cerevisiae in next-generation bio-ethanol production industry. Indeed, we have succeeded to apply K. marxianus for bio-ethanol production in a newly developed process, which combines high-temperature fermentation with simultaneous fermentation and distillation under low pressure. This chapter aims to provide valuable information on thermotolerant ethanologenic yeasts and their application, which may direct the economic bioproduction of ethanol and other useful materials in the future.
Part of the book: Fuel Ethanol Production from Sugarcane