Published online this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center team identified several new genes that improve yeast’s ability to use xylose, a five-carbon sugar that can make up nearly half of available plant sugars. If researchers can coax yeast into using most of these sugars, they can improve the efficiency of producing renewable fuels from biomass crops like corn stover or switchgrass.
“Strains of yeast that are currently used for biofuel production convert xylose to ethanol slowly and inefficiently, and only do so after all the glucose is exhausted,” says the study’s lead author Dana Wohlbach, a postdoctoral researcher at UW-Madison. “For industrial purposes, the faster a yeast can consume the sugars, the better, since more sugar consumption means more ethanol.”
The team partnered with the Department of Energy Joint Genome Institute and sequenced the genomes of two types of fungi that reside in the habitats of bark beetles. Since woody biomass like bark contains a lot of xylose, these fungi were well adapted at using this type of sugar to both grow and also provide nutrients for the beetles.
Applying the power of comparative genomics to fungal ecology, scientists were able to rapidly identify genes that have potential for improving biomass conversion.
“By comparing the genome sequences and expression patterns of many yeasts —rather than just looking at one — we were able to identify elements common to all xylose-fermenting yeasts, and elements absent from non-xylose fermenting yeasts,” says Wohlbach.
The team then introduced several genes into S. cerevisiae, which cannot normally consume xylose. By introducing one gene in particular, named CtAKR, the researchers significantly increased xylose consumption, an important step for economic biofuel production from plant material.
“This research has provided us with a great genomic toolset,” says Wohlbach. “We’re excited to explore new ways to increase yeast’s ability to consume xylose and improve ethanol production for cellulosic biofuels.”
The Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center (GLBRC) is one of three Department of Energy Bioenergy Research Centers funded to make transformational breakthroughs that will form the foundation of new cellulosic biofuels technology. The GLBRC is led by UW-Madison, with Michigan State University as the major partner. Additional scientific partners are DOE National Laboratories, other universities and a biotechnology company. For more information on the GLBRC, visit www.glbrc.org.
The U.S. Department of Energy Joint Genome Institute, supported by the DOE Office of Science, is committed to advancing genomics in support of DOE missions related to clean energy generation and environmental characterization and cleanup. DOE JGI, headquartered in Walnut Creek, Calif., provides integrated high-throughput sequencing and computational analysis that enable systems-based scientific approaches to these challenges. Follow DOE JGI on Twitter.
Margaret Broeren, email@example.com
Margaret Broeren | Newswise Science News
Atomic-level motion may drive bacteria's ability to evade immune system defenses
24.04.2017 | Indiana University
Two-dimensional melting of hard spheres experimentally unravelled after 60 years
24.04.2017 | University of Oxford
More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.
Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...
Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.
"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...
The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.
Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...
The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...
Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.
Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...
20.04.2017 | Event News
18.04.2017 | Event News
03.04.2017 | Event News
24.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
24.04.2017 | Materials Sciences
24.04.2017 | Life Sciences