Decoding the genetic basis of lignocellulosic inhibitor tolerance in Saccharomyces cerevisiae is crucial for rational engineering of bioethanol strains with enhanced robustness. The genetic diversity of natural strains present an invaluable resource for the exploration of complex traits of industrial importance from a pan-genomic perspective to complement the limited range of specialised, tolerant industrial strains. Natural S. cerevisiae isolates have lately garnered interest as a promising toolbox for engineering novel, genetically encoded tolerance phenotypes into commercial strains. To this end, we investigated the genetic basis for lignocellulosic inhibitor tolerance of natural S. cerevisiae isolates. A total of 12 quantitative trait loci underpinning tolerance were identified by next-generation sequencing linked bulk-segregant analysis of superior interbred pools. Our findings corroborate the current perspective of lignocellulosic inhibitor tolerance as a multigenic, complex trait. Apart from a core set of genetic variants required for inhibitor tolerance, an additional genetic background-specific response was observed. Functional analyses of the identified genetic loci revealed the uncharacterised ORF, YGL176C and the bud-site selection XRN1/BUD13 as potentially beneficial alleles contributing to tolerance to a complex lignocellulosic inhibitor mixture. We present evidence for the consideration of both regulatory and coding sequence variants for strain improvement. © FEMS 2019.