Novel Yeast Makes Bioconversion Faster and Less Expensive
A yeast that was isolated from the gut of wood-boring passalid beetles can ferment xylose to ethanol three times faster than the yeast ferments glucose to ethanol, whereas normal yeasts do not ferment xylose at all, or ferment it at a much slower rate than glucose. This yeast can also ferment different sugars simultaneously when presented with a mixture and can ferment xylose to ethanol under anaerobic conditions on minimal medium. All these features are conducive to faster, cheaper biofuels production, and the findings are being developed for possible commercial use.
Forest Products Laboratory researchers determined that this highly unusual yeast, Spathaspora passalidarum, can convert a mixture of cellulosic and hemicellulosic sugars to ethanol. Spathaspora passalidarum was isolated from the gut of wood-boring passalid beetles in the laboratory at Louisiana State University.
Collaboration among the university, scientists at the Forest Products Laboratory, the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center, and the Joint Genome Institute have enabled the isolation, characterization and genomic sequencing of this highly novel yeast. Genomewide expression studies have identified a number of critical genes that enable cofermentation, and these findings are being developed for possible commercial use.
Forest Service Partners