This article reviews evolutionary engineering of Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Following a brief introduction to the 'rational' metabolic engineering approach and its limitations such as extensive genetic and metabolic information requirement on the organism of interest, complexity of cellular physiological responses, and difficulties of cloning in industrial strains, evolutionary engineering is discussed as an alternative, inverse metabolic engineering strategy. Major evolutionary engineering applications with S. cerevisiae are then discussed in two general categories: (1) evolutionary engineering of substrate utilization and product formation and (2) evolutionary engineering of stress resistance. Recent developments in functional genomics methods allow rapid identification of the molecular basis of the desired phenotypes obtained by evolutionary engineering. To conclude, when used alone or in combination with rational metabolic engineering and/or computational methods to study and analyze processes of adaptive evolution, evolutionary engineering is a powerful strategy for improvement in industrially important, complex properties of S. cerevisiae.
© 2011 Federation of European Microbiological Societies. Published by Blackwell Publishing Ltd. All rights reserved.