Modified yeast could lead to more efficient, economical biofuel production

Washington, Aug 20 (ANI): A University of Illinois metabolic engineer has identified a strain of yeast with increased alcohol tolerance that could lead to more efficient and economical production of biofuels.

Biofuels are produced through microbial fermentation of biomass crops, which yield the alcohol-based fuels ethanol and iso-butanol if yeast is used as the microbe to convert sugars from biomass into biofuels.

"However, at a certain concentration, the biofuels that are being created become toxic to the yeast used in making them. Our goal was to find a gene or genes that reduce this toxic effect," said Yong-Su Jin.

Jin identified four genes (MSN2, DOG1, HAL1, and INO1) that improve tolerance to ethanol and iso-butanol when they are overexpressed.

Overexpression of any of the four genes remarkably increased ethanol tolerance, but the strain in which INO1 was overexpressed showed an increase more than 70 percent for ethanol volume and more than 340 percent for ethanol tolerance.

Further study of these genes should increase alcohol tolerance even further, and that will translate into cost savings and greater efficiency during biofuel production, Jin added. (ANI)

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