Hydrothermolysis pretreated switchgrass at 200 degrees C for 10 min was used in a Simultaneous saccharification and fermentation (SSF) process using five thermotolerant yeast strains Kluyveromyces marxianus IMB 1, IMB 2, IMB 3, IMB 4, and IMB 5 at 45 degrees C and Saccharomyces cerevisiae D(5)A at 37 degrees C. SSF was carried out for 7 d using 5, 10, and 15 FPU/g glucan to determine the effect of decreasing cellulase loading on ethanol yield. The effect of initial pH on SSF by S. cerevisiae D(5)A was also investigated. Fermentation by K. marxianus IMB 1. IMB 2, IMB 4, and IMB 5 ceased by 72 h and fermentation by K. marxianus IMB 3 ceased by 96 h, while fermentation S. cerevisiae D(5)A continued for 7 d. At 96 and 120 h, IMB 3 and S. cerevisiae D(5)A had similar ethanol yields while the other K. marxianus strains were lower at a 95% confidence level. Final ethanol yields for IMB 3, IMB 1, IMB 5 strains were similar to one another, however, ethanol yield for S. cerevisiae D(5)A (92% maximum theoretical) was greater than all of the IMB strains except IMB 3 at a 95% confidence level. Reducing enzyme loading reduced ethanol yields for both K. marxianus IMB 3 and S. cerevisiae D(5)A. Reducing buffer pH from 5.5 to 4.8 reduced ethanol yields for S. cerevisiae D(5)A. This study shows that K. marxianus IMB 3 has potential for commercial use for ethanol production from cellulose in SSF processes with further improvement of its thermotolerance. (C) 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.