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, firstname.lastname@example.org
Margaret Broeren | Newswise Science News
Researchers identify potentially druggable mutant p53 proteins that promote cancer growth
09.12.2016 | Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
Plant-based substance boosts eyelash growth
09.12.2016 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Angewandte Polymerforschung IAP
Physicists of the University of Würzburg have made an astonishing discovery in a specific type of topological insulators. The effect is due to the structure of the materials used. The researchers have now published their work in the journal Science.
Topological insulators are currently the hot topic in physics according to the newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung. Only a few weeks ago, their importance was...
In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.
Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...
Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
09.12.2016 | Life Sciences
09.12.2016 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation
09.12.2016 | Health and Medicine