Zbigniew Lazar

Food microbiology and human health, Jouy-en-Josas

Lipid production by oleaginous yeasts

Annual meeting: 2013

Fields-Topics: P1 Molecular and Cellular

Type of talk: Fellows Speed Presentation

Lipid production by oleaginous yeasts


My research is focused mainly on the biotechnological application of the yeast Yarrowia lipolytica. I started working with this yeast during my Ph.D. studies in Poland. My project was focused on simultaneous production of citric acid and invertase by genetically modified strains of this species. However, except the application nature of my project, there was a significant part focused on basic science, mainly on N-glycosylation machinery of this yeast. As a recipient of the Swiss Federal Scholarship I completed a significant part of my Ph.D. in the group of Prof. Markus Aebi at the Institute of Microbiology in Zurich. Additionally, during my studies at ETH I worked on another independent project focused on the characterization of N-glycans occurring in the mushroom Coprinopsis cinerea. After graduation I got a position as Assistant Professor at the Department of Biotechnology and Food Microbiology, in Wroclaw University of Environmental and Life Sciences. At that time I began my collaboration with Dr. Jean-Marc Nicaud, INRA, MICALIS, AgroParisTech, ThivervalGrignon, France, where I got a post doc position in 2013. As an AgreenSkills fellow, I was working on sugar metabolism and lipid production by Y. lipolytica. This project was very successful and resulted in several publications and patents. The success of the AgreenSkills fellowship helped me to get another fellowship - Mobility Plus, granted by Polish Ministry of Science and Higher Education, which got me a 2 years position as visiting scientist in the laboratory of Prof. Gregory Stephanopoulos, Department of Chemical Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA. Currently I am still working on metabolic engineering of lipid production using Y. lipolytica as model organism.


The yeast Yarrowia lipolytica is currently the subject of numerous studies due to its ability to produce molecules of interest such as citric acid, erythritol and biofuels. The production of alternative fuels by the mean of microorganisms from non-food resources has become an important challenge to face the increasing demand and pricing, for this reasons, Y. lipolytica appears to be a promising microbial biofuel producer. The scientific purpose of the project is to discover and to understand the mechanisms of lipid biosynthesis and accumulation in Y. lipolytica. In addition, carbon source utilization remains an essential step for these processes; therefore, hexose transport into the cell occurring in this yeast is an additional objective of this project. In the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae glucose and fructose are uptaken by the same family of transporters (HXT1-17). Therefore, to identify the presence of similar transporters in Y. lipolytica or to determine specific ones for glucose and fructose uptake will provide insight into this phenomenon. It will be equally essential to examine the mechanisms controlling gene expression as well as the factors that influence the rate of transport.

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