Kluyveromyces marxianus is homothallic hemiascomycete yeast frequently isolated from dairy environments. It possesses phenotypic traits such as enhanced thermotolerance, inulinase production, and rapid growth rate that distinguish it from its closest relative Kluyveromyces lactis. Certain of these traits, notably fermentation of lactose and inulin to ethanol, make this yeast attractive for industrial production of ethanol from inexpensive substrates. There is relatively little known, however, about the diversity in this species, at the genetic, metabolic or physiological levels. This study compared phenotypic traits of 13 K. marxianus strains sourced from two European Culture Collections. A wide variety of responses to thermo, osmotic, and cell wall stress were observed, with some strains showing multi-stress resistance. These traits generally appeared unlinked indicating that, as with other yeasts, multiple resistance/adaptation pathways are present in K. marxianus. The data indicate that it should be possible to identify the molecular basis of traits to facilitate selection or engineering of strains adapted for industrial environments. The loci responsible for mating were also identified by genome sequencing and PCR analysis. It was found that K. marxianus can exist as stable haploid or diploid cells, opening up additional prospects for future strain engineering.