Lipid biosynthesis monitored at the single-cell level in Saccharomyces cerevisiae

Pramote Chumnanpuen, Christian Brackmann, Subir Kumar Nandy, Susana Chatzipapadopoulos, Jens Nielsen, Annika Enejder

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There is increasing interest in bioengineering of lipids for use in functional foods, pharmaceuticals, and biofuels. Saccharomyces cerevisiae is a widely utilized cell factory for biotechnological production, thus a tempting alternative. Herein, we show how its neutral lipid accumulation varies throughout metabolic phases under nutritional conditions relevant for large-scale fermentation. Population-averaged metabolic data were correlated with lipid storage at the single-cell level monitored at submicron resolution by label-free coherent anti-Stokes Raman scattering (CARS) microscopy. While lipid droplet sizes are fairly constant, the number of droplets is a dynamic parameter determined by glucose and ethanol levels. The lowest number of lipid droplets is observed in the transition phase between glucose and ethanol fermentation. It is followed by a buildup during the ethanol phase. The surplus of accumulated lipids is then mobilized at concurrent glucose and ethanol starvation in the subsequent stationary phase. Thus, the highest amount of lipids is found in the ethanol phase, which is about 0.3 fL/cell. Our results indicate that the budding yeast, S. cerevisiae, can be used for the biosynthesis of lipids and demonstrate the strength of CARS microscopy for monitoring the dynamics of lipid metabolism at the single-cell level of importance for optimized lipid production.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBiotechnology Journal
Issue number5, Sp. Iss. SI
Pages (from-to)594-601
Publication statusPublished - 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Fungi Plantae (Fungi, Microorganisms, Nonvascular Plants, Plants) - Ascomycetes [15100] Saccharomyces cerevisiae species
  • carbon 7440-44-0
  • ethanol 64-17-5
  • glucose 58367-01-4
  • lipid droplet
  • lipid synthesis, metabolism
  • neutral lipid
  • nitrogen 7727-37-9
  • nutrient
  • triacylglyceride
  • 10060, Biochemistry studies - General
  • 10066, Biochemistry studies - Lipids
  • 10068, Biochemistry studies - Carbohydrates
  • 13202, Nutrition - General studies, nutritional status and methods
  • 39008, Food microbiology - General and miscellaneous
  • 51522, Plant physiology - Chemical constituents
  • HPLC high performance liquid chromatography laboratory techniques, chromatographic techniques
  • label-free coherent anti-Stokes Raman scattering microscopy laboratory techniques, imaging and microscopy techniques
  • Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics
  • Bioprocess Engineering


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