RNAi assisted genome evolution unveils yeast mutants with improved xylose utilization

Mohammad HamediRad, Jiazhang Lian, Hejun Li, Huimin Zhao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Xylose is a major component of lignocellulosic biomass, one of the most abundant feedstocks for biofuel production. Therefore, efficient and rapid conversion of xylose to ethanol is crucial in the viability of lignocellulosic biofuel plants. In this study, RNAi Assisted Genome Evolution (RAGE) was used to improve the xylose utilization rate in SR8, one of the most efficient publicly available xylose utilizing Saccharomyces cerevisiae strains. To identify gene targets for further improvement, we created a genome-scale library consisting of both genetic over-expression and down-regulation mutations in SR8. Followed by screening in media containing xylose as the sole carbon source, yeast mutants with 29% faster xylose utilization, and 45% higher ethanol productivity were obtained relative to the parent strain. Two known and two new effector genes were identified in these mutant strains. Notably, down-regulation of CDC11, an essential gene, resulted in faster xylose utilization, and this gene target cannot be identified in genetic knock-out screens.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1552-1560
Number of pages9
JournalBiotechnology and bioengineering
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2018


  • biofuels
  • genome engineering
  • xylose utilization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Bioengineering
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology


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