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Beyond bread and beer--another use for baker's yeast. (Science Update).

Though a mainstay ingredient in bakeries and breweries, common baker's yeast has potential uses far beyond these familiar products. Scientists have learned to change the metabolism of Saccharomyces cerevisiae by adding certain plant enzymes so that it can convert vegetable oils into more valuable byproducts.

Baker's yeast depends on sugars and other carbohydrates for most of the fermentative activity that produces the carbon dioxide and alcohol that bakers and brewers need. It mainly uses lipids to reinforce cell walls and store energy.

But the modified yeast can store up to seven times the normal amount of lipids. And by adding different enzymes under different conditions, researchers have enabled the yeast to convert oilseed crops such as soybeans, cotton, and linseed into products such as alpha eleostearic acid--the main ingredient of tung oil--and alpha linolenic acid, which contains an omega 3 fatty acid shown to protect against heart disease and cancer. Further refinement of the procedures should allow for larger scale production of these and other valuable lipids.

John M. Dyer, USDA-ARS Commodity Utilization Research Unit, New Orleans, Louisiana; phone (504) 286-4351, e-mail jdyer@srrc.ars.usda.gov.
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Title Annotation:converting vegetable oils into lipids
Comment:Beyond bread and beer--another use for baker's yeast. (Science Update).(converting vegetable oils into lipids)(Brief Article)
Author:Dyer, John M.
Publication:Agricultural Research
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:May 1, 2002
Words:187
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