Potassium and Sodium Salt Stress Characterization in the Yeasts Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Kluyveromyces marxianus, and Rhodotorula toruloides.Appl Environ Microbiol. 2021 06 11; 87(13):e0310020.AE
Biotechnology requires efficient microbial cell factories. The budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae is a vital cell factory, but more diverse cell factories are essential for the sustainable use of natural resources. Here, we benchmarked nonconventional yeasts Kluyveromyces marxianus and Rhodotorula toruloides against S. cerevisiae strains CEN.PK and W303 for their responses to potassium and sodium salt stress. We found an inverse relationship between the maximum growth rate and the median cell volume that was responsive to salt stress. The supplementation of K+ to CEN.PK cultures reduced Na+ toxicity and increased the specific growth rate 4-fold. The higher K+ and Na+ concentrations impaired ethanol and acetate metabolism in CEN.PK and acetate metabolism in W303. In R. toruloides cultures, these salt supplementations induced a trade-off between glucose utilization and cellular aggregate formation. Their combined use increased the beta-carotene yield by 60% compared with that of the reference. Neural network-based image analysis of exponential-phase cultures showed that the vacuole-to-cell volume ratio increased with increased cell volume for W303 and K. marxianus but not for CEN.PK and R. toruloides in response to salt stress. Our results provide insights into common salt stress responses in yeasts and will help design efficient bioprocesses. IMPORTANCE Characterization of microbial cell factories under industrially relevant conditions is crucial for designing efficient bioprocesses. Salt stress, typical in industrial bioprocesses, impinges upon cell volume and affects productivity. This study presents an open-source neural network-based analysis method to evaluate volumetric changes using yeast optical microscopy images. It allows quantification of cell and vacuole volumes relevant to cellular physiology. On applying salt stress in yeasts, we found that the combined use of K+ and Na+ improves the cellular fitness of Saccharomyces cerevisiae strain CEN.PK and increases the beta-carotene productivity in Rhodotorula toruloides, a commercially important antioxidant and a valuable additive in foods.