In recent years, as the genomes of more species have been decoded, scientists have come to realize that the genes alone are not necessarily the most critical factor in distinguishing different species. It turns out that many of the sequences are common, and it's usually a combination of multiple genes turning on and off that controls the outcome. The activation of genes is controlled by proteins that manipulate many genes.
Researchers at MIT are using this knowledge to create breeds of yeast that more optimal for ethanol production. Traditional strains of yeast become significantly less effective as the concentration of ethanol increases. The team led by Professor Gregory Stephanopoulos used an approach of replacing proteins in the yeast in order to manipulate many genes at once to create a highly ethanol tolerant strain. The new strain of yeast also is a much better fermenter than the original. The modified yeast produced 50 percent more ethanol in a 21 hour period, and continued functioning longer as the ethanol concentration rose. Their work is being published in the December 8 issue of Science. Click Read to see the report from the MIT News Office.

[Source: MIT News Office]

UPDATED: Headline type fixed.

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