British Petroleum’s (BP) disastrous Gulf oil spill will forever be a part of our nation’s gasoline-powered history. The oil giant is trying to introduce an improved ethanol that could assist us in weaning ourselves off of oil and making that spill a distant memory. Recently, BP teamed up with the University of Illinois, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the University of California at Berkeley, and Seoul National University to engineer a yeast strain that can simultaneously ferment two different sugars to produce ethanol. This engineered yeast, a strain of Saccharomyces cerevisiae, can apparently ferment glucose and xlyose both rapidly and efficiently.
EurekAlert outlined the technicalities that make the engineered yeast unique, stating:
This approach … eliminates the costly step of adding a cellobiose-degrading enzyme to the lignocellulose mixture before the yeast consumes it. It has the added advantage of circumventing the yeast’s own preference for glucose. Because the glucose can now “sneak” into the yeast in the form of cellobiose, the glucose transporters can focus on drawing xylose into the cell instead.
In other terms, the engineered yeast can boost ethanol production and, at the same time, make the fuel both easier and cheaper to produce. That’s something worth gushing about.
Source and thanks Autoblog Green