USDA researchers have developed a new strain of yeast that could help streamline cellulosic ethanol costs and production. A molecular biologist with USDA’s Agricultural Research Service and his colleagues found that the new strain of yeast can break down and ferment the sugars in corn cobs left behind after the compound xylose has been extracted. The strain is able to grow rapidly at 98.6-degrees Fahrenheit – so it thrives at the higher temperatures needed to optimize simultaneous saccharification and fermentation – the one-step process in cellulosic ethanol production that combines releasing and fermenting feedstock sugars. Testing by the group provided several findings – including that the new yeast strain contains beta-glucosidase. This means using the yeast for cellulosic ethanol production would eliminate the need to include the cost of an additional enzyme to the process. USDA’s molecular biologist will continue exploring options for combining the desirable characteristics of the yeast strain with additional enzymes to further improve bioprocessing for advanced biofuels production.
To read more about this work – check out the May/June issue of Agricultural Research magazine online at www.ars.usda.gov.
Source: NAFB News Service