Synthetic Biology Turns Yeast into Micro Fuel Machines Using Parts From Brown Algae

Maria Enquist-Newman, Ann Marie E. Faust, Daniel D. Bravo, Christine Nicole S. Santos, Ryan M. Raisner, Arthur Hanel, Preethi Sarvabhowman, Chi Le, Drew D. Regitsky, Susan R. Cooper, Lars Peereboom, Alana Clark, Yessica Martinez, Joshua Goldsmith, Min Y. Cho, Paul D. Donohoue, Lily Luo, Brigit Lamberson, Pramila Tamrakar, Edward J. Kim, Jeffrey L. Villari, Avinash Gill, Shital A. Tripathi, Padma Karamchedu, Carlos J. Paredes, Vineet Rajgarhia, Hans Kristian Kotlar, Richard B. Bailey, Dennis J. Miller, Nicholas L. Ohler, Candace Swimmer & Yasuo Yoshikuni (2014) Efficient ethanol production from brown macroalgae sugars by a synthetic yeast platform.
Nature 505, 239–243 Doi:10.1038/Nature12771
Efficient ethanol production from brown macroalgae sugars by a synthetic yeast platform

As civilizations are advancing, more and more energy production is needed to keep pace. Research efforts are trying to develop novel sources of alternative energy. One such energy source is ethanol not produced from food sources like corn in efforts to keep world food prices stable. Using new technology and techniques, a new scientific field has developed, synthetic biology. In synthetic biology, scientists identify the necessary components from one or more organisms to achieve some goal and add the genes for these components in another organism that is easier to work with like yeast. In the current study, researchers identified a gene from the brown algae Asteromyces cruciatus that placed in the yeast genome would allow them to import a simple carbohydrate into the cell for conversion to ethanol. Testing the efficiency of this new yeast strain, researchers found it successfully converted all major carbohydrates of brown algae to ethanol in the absence of oxygen. These findings could have major impacts on the type of feedstock is used to produce second generation ethanol.