University of Illinois Professor Yong-Su Jin had isolated four genes to increase yeast’s tolerance to alcohol, such as ethanol and isobutanol, that should lead to more efficient and affordable production of biofuel. Biofuels are made by fermenting crops, and when yeast is utilized to convert sugars into biomass, the resulting fermentation creates fuels like ethanol and isobutanol. The problem occurs when the yeast die if there is too high a concentration of these alcohols. The the other side, you need to produce more concentrated batches to be more efficient with production, and that’s where the new genetic discovery from Professor Jin comes in.
The challenge now is to breed the yeasts with these genes over-expressed, which would lead to greater results. One gene, the INO1 gene, would increase the yeast’s tolerance to alcohol by 340%. Translated to production numbers, that would mean 70% more fuel per batch.