METABOLIC ENGINEERING

Making biofuels greener

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Science  06 Mar 2015:
Vol. 347, Issue 6226, pp. 1110
DOI: 10.1126/science.347.6226.1110-a

Plant biomass, rich in hemicellulose, can be converted by microorganisms into ethanol for use as biofuel. However, some materials derived from plant cell walls, including sugars such as xylodextrin, are more difficult for microorganisms to metabolize, making the overall biofuel production process less efficient. Li et al. characterized a widely distributed xylodextrin consumption pathway from the fungus Neurospora crassa that is required for its growth on hemicellulose. Engineering this pathway into yeast produces previously unknown intermediate metabolites from xylodextrin that are then broken down to xylose and xylitol and fermented to ethanol.

eLife 10.7554/eLife.05896#sthash.pkIMD1GC.dpuf (2015).

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