CRISPR-edited yeast could make biofuel production more efficient

| August 15, 2018
Image Credit: Euractiv
This article or excerpt is included in the GLP’s daily curated selection of ideologically diverse news, opinion and analysis of biotechnology innovation.

Some chemicals used to …. breakdown plants for production of biofuels …. are poison to the yeasts that turn the plant sugars into fuel …. Researchers …. have identified two changes to a single gene that can make the yeast tolerate the pretreatment chemicals ….

[T]urning …. grasses or leftover cornstalks into biofuels often mimics the way nature returns plant nutrients to the soil, air and water ….

“But the process of decomposing plant material is really slow ….” says Trey Sato, a senior scientist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison ….and a lead researcher on the yeast study ….

So biofuels manufacturers speed up the process …. by pretreating the raw plant biomass. Pretreatment may include applying …. salts called ionic liquids ….

“[E]ven after you go to the trouble to remove …. as much of the ionic liquids as you can …. the amount you can’t get out is enough to be toxic to a lot of microbes,” [Sato said.]

[T]he researchers looked to a variety of [yeast] strains  …. [and] found one strain with outstanding tolerance to ionic liquids. They …. identified a pair of genes key to surviving the otherwise toxic pretreatment chemicals. One of the genes …. makes a protein that …. works as a pump to remove toxins.


…. The researchers used the gene-editing tool CRISPR to alter a strain of an ionic liquid-susceptible yeast …. successfully producing a yeast that can survive ….

Read full, original article: Scientists Discover How To Protect Yeast From Damage In Biofuel Production

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