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A research team at a Thai university has genetically modified a strain of yeast to produce higher fat levels for use as a biofuel feedstock, the Bangkok Post wrote.

As part of the research, the CU-TPD4 strain of the Saccharomyces cerevisiae – normally used in making beer and bread – had been genetically engineered to produce and store fat accounting for 20-25% of dry body cells, Prof Warawut Chulalaksananukul, lecturer and researcher at the Department of Botany of Chulalongkorn's Faculty of Science, was quoted as saying.

The fat produced by this newly grown strain of yeast could be used in biofuel production, he said.

“Using yeast to produce a material for producing biofuel has more advantages than using a plant. It has a … shorter life span than plants, can be grown by several means, is cheaper and requires less labour,” Prof Chulalaksananukul said.

“It helps make biofuel production of the same type produced using plant oil a lot easier, while the product is proved to be safe to humans and environmentally-friendly.”

The research project was jointly funded by the National Research Council of Thailand and a Thai-Chinese cooperation programme on renewable energy which focuses on research and development of new microbial lipid synthesis and bio-refinery of jet fuel from biomass resources, the report said.