Creating alternative energy sources through large-scale industrial fermentation of renewable biomass is a major goal for the sustainable development of human society. High oil prices, energy security issues, and environmental goals all necessitate intense focus on making alternative energy an economically feasible reality. Most biofuel refinery plants today utilize strains of S. cerevisiae to ferment sugars from the carbon source into ethanol. These yeasts must survive in various harsh industrial environments, withstanding low pH, osmotic stresses, high temperatures and high alcohol concentrations. To date, yeast in the industry have either been selected from natural (slowly) evolving yeast, or have undergone genetic modification of known pathways. These current techniques are limiting, as natural evolution is slow, and genetic modification necessitates an understanding of the pathways involved.
The innovation is a technique for rapid breeding of yeast, enabling rapid selection of the sexual reproduction fittest progeny. The technology will enhance yeast used in the bioethanol industry in Brazil and the US to be more robust to a variety of industrially important traits (e.g., low pH, high temperature, high osmotic stress, high ethanol concentration).
- Robust and rapid breeding of fittest yeast strains
- Biofuel production