WARF: P140430US02

Modified Yeast with Enhanced Tolerance for GVL Biomass Solvent


Jeff Piotrowski, Trey Sato, Chad Myers

The Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) is seeking commercial partners interested in developing GVL-tolerant strains of Saccharomyces cerevisiae for industrial-scale ethanol production.
OVERVIEWGamma-valerolactone (GVL) is an inexpensive solvent derived from biomass that can be used to break apart tough lignocellulose into fermentable sugars including xylose and glucose. GVL-based techniques are a potentially transformative breakthrough in biofuel production (for more information see WARF reference number P130123US01).

Problematically, residual levels of GVL found in the sugar products are toxic to yeast, slowing the fermentation process. A solution needs to be found to achieve industrially relevant ethanol production.
THE INVENTIONUW–Madison researchers have developed a genetically modified strain of Saccharomyces cerevisiae that is more resistant to GVL toxicity and grows more than 1.5 times faster than wild yeast in the presence of GVL.

The researchers deleted two genes (Pad1p and Fdc1p) in the yeast that play a role in mediating GVL tolerance. The new strain is the first ethanol-producing yeast specifically tailored for GVL-based techniques.
  • Biomass depolymerization and fermentation is the first step in making a wide variety of biofuels and other products.
  • New strain shows increased tolerance for GVL.
  • Boosts ethanol yields
  • Able to ferment both xylose and glucose sugars
STAGE OF DEVELOPMENTIn the presence of GVL, the modified yeast grows 1.5 times faster than the wild type and completely ferments glucose in less time.
Contact Information
For current licensing status, please contact Mark Staudt at or 608-960-9845.
The WARF Advantage

Since its founding in 1925 as the patenting and licensing organization for the University of Wisconsin-Madison, WARF has been working with business and industry to transform university research into products that benefit society. WARF intellectual property managers and licensing staff members are leaders in the field of university-based technology transfer. They are familiar with the intricacies of patenting, have worked with researchers in relevant disciplines, understand industries and markets, and have negotiated innovative licensing strategies to meet the individual needs of business clients.