Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Genome sequence published for important biofuels yeast

08.10.2009
Findings could lead to more efficient biofuel production

A strain of yeast that thrives on turning sugar cane into ethanol for biofuel has had its genome completely sequenced by researchers at Duke University Medical Center.

"Understanding this microbe may enable more efficient biofuel production, and also will produce even more robust industrial organisms that are versatile and capable of producing advanced biofuels from non-food crops like switchgrass," said Lucas Argueso, Ph.D., lead author and research scholar in the Duke Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology.

Argueso worked with researchers from Brazil and the University of North Carolina on the study, which was published in Genome Research.

When oil prices crept to new highs in the 1970s, Brazil invested in alternative biofuels created from the country's abundant sugar cane crops. Commercially available baker's yeast was used to break down the sugar cane into ethanol, but genetic tests showed that this yeast quickly disappeared in the harsh environment of industrial fermentation vats. However, a yeast that grows naturally on the sugar cane was still viable in the vats and lasted through many more generations.

This is the yeast strain that Argueso and colleagues studied and mapped, known as PE-2.

"We took an organism that is hugely important from an industrial standpoint but completely unknown in terms of its genetic and molecular properties," Argueso said. "We learned much more about how a complex genome is organized and may contribute to a robust and well-adapted organism."

"Now we have sequenced the genome, so we have a road map that will allow us to build upon its natural abilities," he said. "This opens the door to crossing yeast strains to make even more efficient yeasts for enhanced biofuel production."

Knowing more about what makes yeast hearty will help as biofuel production evolves. In addition to the sugar cane fuels of Brazil, scientists and farmers are also looking into new carbohydrate sources that could easily be farmed in the United States and other areas, since sugar cane farming is limited to warm climates. Switchgrass and giant grass, also known as elephant grass, are possibilities, along with miscanthus grass.

Argueso said the PE-2 genome will aid research into finding the best and strongest yeasts for converting the cellulose in grasses into biofuel, Argueso said.

"I believe this strain has a natural talent for carbohydrate biofuels that have not yet been introduced in the United States," he said. "When the technology is engineered to effectively break down cellulose, I believe this strain of yeast will be an ideal delivery vehicle for that technology."

The study also yielded some interesting genetic information about Saccharomyces cerevisiae, the most studied and utilized yeast species.

"The paper suggests that industrial yeast strains may have a high rate of evolution, helping them adapt to the stressful conditions of batch fermentation," said Tom Petes, Ph.D., senior author and professor of molecular genetics and microbiology at Duke University.

PE-2 yeast are what is known as diploid, having two copies each of 16 different chromosomes. In the case of these yeast, the genetic structure lends itself to robust life, Petes says, because the two copies of each chromosome are slightly different. The greatest differences between paired chromosomes occur at the ends of these worm-like structures, making reconfiguration easier and speeding adaptation to evolve.

The study was funded by two grants from the National Institutes of Health, a BRASKEM/FAPESP grant, and support from ETH Bioenergia, a Brazilian company that produces ethanol and sugar from sugar cane.

Other authors include Margaret Dominska and John H. McCusker, of the Duke Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology; Fred S. Dietrich, also of the Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology and the Duke Institute for Genome Sciences and Policy; and Piotr A. Mieczkowski, of the Department of Genetics at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Brazilian scientists also played key roles in the study, including Gonçalo A.G. Pereira, Marcelo F. Carazzolle, Fabiana M. Duarte, Osmar V.C. Netto, Silvia K. Missawa, Felipe Galzerani, Gustavo G.L. Costa, Ramon O. Vidal, Melline F. Noronha, Anderson F. Cunha, Maria G.S. Andrietta and Sílvio R. Andrietta of Campinas State University; and Luiz H. Gomes, Flavio C.A. Tavares, and André R. Alcarde, of the University of São Paulo.

Mary Jane Gore | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.duke.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Researchers develop eco-friendly, 4-in-1 catalyst
25.04.2017 | Brown University

nachricht Transfecting cells gently – the LZH presents a GNOME prototype at the Labvolution 2017
25.04.2017 | Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V.

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

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...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

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...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

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...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

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...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

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...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

7th International Conference on Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaics in Freiburg on April 3-5, 2017

03.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

NASA's Fermi catches gamma-ray flashes from tropical storms

25.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Researchers invent process to make sustainable rubber, plastics

25.04.2017 | Materials Sciences

Transfecting cells gently – the LZH presents a GNOME prototype at the Labvolution 2017

25.04.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>