Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Progress Made in Biomass-to-Biofuels Conversion Process

Genetic Sequencing of Yeast a Step Toward Economical Production of Biofuels

MADISON, Wis., March 6 - A collaborative research project between the U.S. Forest Service Forest Products Laboratory (FPL) and the Department of Energy Joint Genome Institute has advanced the quest for efficient conversion of plant biomass to fuels and chemicals.

"We have sequenced and assembled the complete genome of Pichia stipitis, a native xylose-fermenting yeast," says Thomas Jeffries, research microbiologist at FPL. The results of this research project will be published in the scientific journal Nature Biotechnology in April, and the report is currently available online at http://www.nature.com/nbt/journal/vaop/ncurrent/index.html.

The sequencing of P. Stipitis marks an important step toward the efficient production of biofuels because the yeast can efficiently ferment xylose, a main component of plant lignocellulose. Xylose fermentation is vital to economically converting plant biomass to fuels and chemicals such as ethanol.

"A better understanding of the genetic structure of this yeast allows us to determine how specific genes are used in fermentation and then reengineer them to perform other desired functions," says Jeffries.

No comments: