Brazilian scientists mastered the production of inexpensive second-generation ethanol based on a genetically modified enzyme cocktail. They harnessed the power of genetic engineering to create a unique platform for the production of enzymes that breaks down sugarcane waste and convert it into biofuel. The new method and the results obtained can be widely applied in industrial production.
The main challenge in the production of the second generation ethanol is the development of inexpensive enzyme mixtures. The biofuels can be made from many types of non-food waste that include agricultural waste, wood chips, and even used cooking oil.
The scientists settled on obtaining biofuels from the sugarcane cake. For that, the Trichoderma reesei mushroom was used. The scientists consider it as one of the most productive producers of enzymes that destroy the cell wall of plants. In their new study, they used six genetic modifications and a commonly available strain of that fungus.
Thus, at the first stage, it was possible to increase the production of important enzymes. Further, the geneticists used the technique of editing the gene base, regulating the expression of genes associated with the enzymes, adding exactly those that these mushrooms lack in nature.
As a result, the genetic engineers allowed the fungus to produce a huge amount of enzymes from agricultural waste. A project scientific director Mario Murakami noted that on average, about 640 million tons of cane are processed every year, and the process generates about 70 million tons of a dry waste.
They are not used, but in fact, fuel ethanol can be obtained from this waste material.