Ethanol and Yeast. Reducing the cost of e85?

Here is an article that is pretty interesting. Its not quite information for e85 but it can help the common problem of ethanol based fuels not having the same miles per gallon as petroleum.

Washington, Dec 8 (ANI): Scientists from Whitehead Institute and MIT have engineered yeast that can improve the speed and efficiency of ethanol production, a key component to making biofuels.

Currently used as a fuel additive to improve gasoline combustibility, ethanol is often touted as a potential solution to the growing oil-driven energy crisis. However, there are significant obstacles to producing ethanol, the major being that high ethanol levels are toxic to the yeast that ferments corn and other plant material into ethanol.

But now, a research team comprising of Hal Alper, a postdoctoral associate in the laboratories of MIT chemical engineering professor Gregory Stephanopoulos and Whitehead Member Gerald Fink, have by manipulating the yeast genome, engineered a new strain of yeast that can tolerate elevated levels of both ethanol and glucose, while producing ethanol faster than un-engineered yeast.

The team targeted two proteins belonging to the class, transcription factors. These proteins typically control large groups of genes, regulating when these genes are turned on or shut off.

When the researchers altered a transcription factor called the TATA-binding protein, it caused the over-expression of at least a dozen genes, all of which were found to be necessary to elicit an improved ethanol tolerance. As a result, that strain of yeast was able to survive high ethanol concentrations.

In addition, this altered strain produced 50 percent more ethanol during a 21-hour period than normal yeast.

The findings appear in the December 8 issue of Science.

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