From French bread to non-fossil fuel?
The Why? Files: The Science Behind the News
Yeast can ferment corn starch into ethanol to be added to gasoline, but that diverts millions of tons of food from hungry people. Researchers are trying to ferment many other plant carbohydrates, especially cellulose, the tough chain-like molecule that stiffens the cell wall so plants can stand by themselves.
Unfortunately, the yeasts used to make ethanol have no taste for cellulose.
In this week’s Science, Jamie Cate, in the department of molecular and cell biology at the University of California at Berkeley, reports a transfer of two genes from a fungus to ethanol-making yeast. Although the fungus was discovered on French bread in the 1840s, the result was not exactly a fine Burgundy, or even a gallon of cheap jug wine, but it was a proof of principle that a single organism could, almost single-yeastedly, convert cellulose into ethanol.
Submitted by Anonymous on Fri, 2010-09-10 09:52