Researchers use light to turn yeast into biochemical factories

March 23, 2018 |

In New Jersey, Princeton University researchers used light to control genetically modified yeast and increase its output of commercially valuable chemicals. The team used light to enhance the production of biofuels, drugs and commercial chemicals in bioreactors, which contain microorganisms such as yeast that have been metabolically engineered to make biological products. The team uses a technology called optogenetics — involving light to control cellular processes — to turn yeast genes on and off at specific times to optimize the production of the desired chemical or product. Their new technique can help produce other chemicals including lactic acid, used in food production and bioplastics, and isobutanol, a commodity chemical and an advanced biofuel.

Co-lead researcher José Avalos, an assistant professor of chemical and biological engineering and the Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment, said, “This technique allows us to control the metabolism of cells in an unprecedented way. It opens the door to controlling metabolism with light.”

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Category: Research

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