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Table 1 The most prominent and promising oleaginous yeast species and their key characteristics

From: The history, state of the art and future prospects for oleaginous yeast research

Yeast species Popularity (% of oleaginous yeasts cultured)a Max. lipid productivity (g L−1 h−1)b Max. scale (L)c Exemplary fatty acid composition (% w/w) Major strengths Weaknesses Refs.
16:0 16:1 18:0 18:1 18:2
Yarrowia lipolytica 13.2 (7.9 + 5.3) 1.20 (GE) 5000 10.6 8.9 10.1 63.4 5.2 Genetic tractability; affinity towards hydrophobic substrate; co-product: citric acid Limited substrate spectrum [10, 41, 107, 164, 167]
Rhodotorula toruloides 13.0 (10.9 + 2.1) 1.48 1000 20.0 0.6 14.6 46.9 13.1 High yields; valuable co-product: carotenoids Low inhibitor tolerance [118, 177, 182, 256]
Cutaneo-trichosporon oleaginosus 11.6 (11.0 + 0.6) 1.00 250,000 18.9 0.2 24.8 45.7 4.6 Wide substrate spectrum (incl. lactose); high inhibitor tolerance; fast growth [28, 30, 31, 118, 121]
Lipomyces starkeyi 7.8 (7.5 + 0.3) 1.60 21 (est.) 33.3 2.8 4.8 52.0 3.6 Co-fermentation of substrates [109, 148, 198, 266, 316]
Rhodotorula glutinis 5.4 (5.1 + 0.3) 0.86 210 (est.) 15.4 7.2 9.1 63.5 1.8 Bio-control ability; valuable co-product: carotenoids [97, 124, 204, 205, 290]
Rhodotorula mucilaginosa 4.1 (3.7 + 0.4) 0.33 12 19.6 0.8 6.1 41.8 27.0 Co-products: xylitol, carotenoids [304, 312, 317]
Trichosporon cutaneum 2.8 (2.6 + 0.2) 0.17 14 30.0 13.0 46.0 11.0 Wide substrate spectrum (incl. lactose); high inhibitor tolerance Dimorphism [143, 318]
Metschnikowia pulcherrima 1.4 (1.2 + 0.2) 0.35 (EV) 500 38.5 2.5 4.6 47.6 Bio-control ability; valuable co-product: 2-phenylethanol; lipid accumulation on nutrient-rich feedstock; high inhibitor tolerance Slow growth [43, 104, 112, 124, 150, 156]
  1. The fatty acid composition of the lipids includes palmitic (16:0), palmitoleic (16:1), stearic (18:0), oleic (18:1), linoleic (18:2) and alpha/gamma-linolenic acid (18:3)
  2. aSplit into native and genetically modified (genetically engineered, evolved, mutated) strains
  3. bGE, genetically engineered; EV, evolved; please see Additional file 1: Table S5 for the average lipid productivity of the depicted species
  4. cWorking volume; est., estimated as 70% w/w of reactor volume