Xylome, Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation reach deal on yeast

By Xylome Corp. | November 13, 2014

Xylome Corp. has signed licensing and equity agreements with the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation to develop and market unconventional yeasts with the power to transform tough biomass into sustainable fuels and chemicals.

“The new technologies have already proven their worth in laboratory and pilot trials,” says Thomas Jeffries, president of Xylome. “Combined with our proprietary platform strains and deep knowledge of the field, we’ve built a solid foundation for commercial success.”

Conventional yeasts for baking and brewing do not utilize all the sugars found in biomass, so they must be genetically modified. To get around this problem, Xylome has developed naturally occurring, non-GMO yeasts that natively ferment the sugars from cellulosic feedstocks. At the same time, Xylome’s technology enables genetic modification of these non-conventional yeasts to synthesize novel products.

Therefore, Xylome’s non-GMO yeasts can be used to convert cellulosic sugars into biofuels and can be genetically modified for synthetic biology applications as well.

The new licensing agreement covers several technologies, including: the genetic transformation of widely studied native xylose- and cellobiose-fermenting yeasts; highly effective sugar transporters; and mutations in key genes that enhance xylose metabolism. Also covered are metabolically engineered yeasts for the synthesis of ethanol and other products, and cultivation conditions that enable co-fermentation of glucose along with xylose and cellulosic sugars.

“Xylome expects to conduct commercial trials, production and ongoing development for target markets in the U.S. and abroad,” says Jeffries. “The impressive fermentation strength of our non-GMO platform strains along with effective, flexible genetic tools create a very powerful combination.”

Xylome is currently working with several companies to evaluate low-cost feedstock from cellulosic and other sources. Technology covered under the current agreement was developed in conjunction with the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center.