Researchers expand yeast's sugary diet to include plant fiber

University of California, Berkeley, researchers have taken genes from grass-eating fungi and stuffed them into yeast, creating strains that produce alcohol from tough plant material cellulose that normal yeast can't digest.

The feat could be a boon for the biofuels industry, which is struggling to make cellulosic ethanol ethanol from plant fiber, not just cornstarch or sugar economically feasible.

Jamie Cate, associate professor of molecular and cell biology and faculty scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) and his UC Berkeley and LBNL colleagues report their success this week in Science Express, a fast-track online publication of the journal Science.