Microbial production strains need to operate under sub- optimal growth conditions such as low pH, high osmolarity and thermal stress. The capacity to carry out industrial fermentations at higher temperatures reduces the risk of bacterial contamination and lowers cooling costs. We want to understand the basis of thermotolerance in the industrial yeast Kluyveromyces marxianus. As part of the EU-funded project, CHASSY, K. marxianus was grown in chemostat cultures under different stress conditions and a multi-omics analysis performed to study a range of stress responses, including elevated temperature (40 °C). Transcriptomes were generated from steady state cultures growing at identical growth rates under different stress conditions and gene set enrichment analysis (GSEA) performed. A range of functions were identified as being specifically expressed at higher temperatures and these are now being further investigated. One example is the temperature-specific expression of two putative hexose transport genes. Subsequent mutational inactivation using CRISPR and heterologous complementation established that at least one of these two genes is required for growth at (40 °C). We are now trying to determine the substrates for, and the precise function of, these genes. We also developed a ribosome profiling pipeline for K. marxianus and are using this to investigate the translational response to temperature stress. The combined study of both transcription and translation at steady state and as a culture responds to a temperature shift will give a comprehensive view of the basis of thermotolerance in K. marxianus and should identify strategies to exploit this in biotechnological processes.

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