Researchers from the Agricultural Research Service are developing a “resistant” yeast for the production of cellulosic ethanol: Biofuels Digest

In Illinois, yeasts play a key role in the conversion (“fermentation”) of plant sugars into ethanol fuel. But not all yeast is created equal. Some are better fermenters than others because they can tolerate the harsh conditions of the bioreactors in which they are used.

Clavispora NRRL Y-50464 is one such yeast. A team of Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists at the agency’s National Agricultural Utilization Research Center in Peoria, Illinois used a standard microbiology procedure called “adaptive evolution in the laboratory” to generate the hardy yeast strain, which in testing surpassed the industry standard. Saccharomyces cerevisiae.

The strain is the toughest of the tough ones selected by researchers from a natural population of Clavispora yeasts originally found on sweet sorghum. This toughness includes heat tolerance, rapid growth, and an ability to detoxify harmful by-products like furfural while producing ethanol. The yeast strain also makes its own beta-glucosidase, an enzyme that catalyzes the breakdown of simple sugars like glucose from lignocellulose so they can be fermented into ethanol. This eliminates the need to add beta-glucosidase.

Key words: Agricultural Research Service, Illinois, Yeast

Category: To research

Lana T. Arthur