PerspectiveMicrobiology

How to survive being hot and inebriated

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Science  03 Oct 2014:
Vol. 346, Issue 6205, pp. 35-36
DOI: 10.1126/science.1260127

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Summary

Industrial biotechnology will play an increasingly important role in our response to climate change and the need for increased environmental sustainability. In the realm of biofuels production, baker's yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) is often the biocatalyst of choice. Sustainable bio-based chemical production requires the efficient use of renewable feedstock such as lignocellulosic biomass. However, a major challenge in this field is the wide variety of inhibitory conditions encountered by the biocatalyst throughout the production process. Two papers on pages 75 and 71 of this issue address this challenge, using two distinct approaches to advance the current state of the field. Caspeta et al. (1) made use of adaptive laboratory evolution to generate strains conferring stable thermotolerance. They employed genomic, transcriptomic, and metabolic flux analysis tools to elucidate the underlying mechanisms for the observed phenotype. Lam et al. (2) hypothesize a mechanism of product toxicity in the generation of ethanol and propose a route for achieving increased ethanol tolerance.