Brown and lead author Shihui Yang did not stop with Z. mobilis but looked at related genes in other microorganisms and found that the method translates in different organisms.
"We took this gene and integrated it into a strain of yeast, and the improvements carried over into the yeast," Yang said.
Brown says this method of processing biomass for ethanol has the potential to become a "tool kit" a combination of mutant genes that reduce the impact of specific inhibitors. The tool kit could expand quickly, too, as scientists now have more advanced DNA sequencing technology available to identify and resequence genes.
"The DNA sequencer we used was unavailable as recently as five years ago, and it has unprecedented sequencing capabilities. It is 4,000 times more powerful than the machine that finished sequencing the human genome almost a decade ago," Brown said.
ORNL microbiologists are currently sequencing other microorganisms used in biofuels production that could also be advantageous if genetically altered to resist different types of inhibitors.
"By looking at the behavioral response to the genetic changes in this bacteria, Zymomonas, we can then look forward to improving other bacteria," Yang said.
|Contact: Katie Freeman|
DOE/Oak Ridge National Laboratory