Audrey Gasch

last updated 4/4/2018

Audrey P. Gasch

Researcher at Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center

1552 University Ave., Madison, Wisconsin, United States
HQ Phone:
(608) 890-2042

General Information


Assistant Professor - University of Wisconsin-Madison


Ph.D.University of Wisconsin-Madison

PhD - Biochemistry , Stanford University


Assistant Professor - University of Wisconsin-Madison

Board of Trustees Member - Gordon Research Conferences incorporated

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JGI - Fungal Program User Advisory Committee

Audrey Gasch, Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center

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Tweaking Yeast's Appetite Improves Biofuel Yield | Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center

Audrey Gasch
(Left) Audrey Gasch (right) and graduate student Maria Sardi discuss how naturally occurring yeast can help engineer a more stress-tolerant strain for ethanol production. "It doesn't seem like one less carbon molecule should be a big deal," Audrey Gasch says, "but to the yeast, it is." Gasch, a genetics professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and researcher at the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center (GLBRC), studies the chemical conversion of cellulosic - or non-food - biomass into ethanol and other biofuels. Recently, she and her colleague Trey Sato have focused on engineering a yeast strain that produces more ethanol from corn stover, the corn stalks, leaves, husks and cobs that remain in fields after the harvest. Gasch and Sato have accomplished this by coaxing yeast to consume xylose, the five-carbon sugar molecule for which it lost its appetite a long time ago. To get yeast to eat something it won't touch in nature, Gasch and Sato first had to turn back the evolutionary clock. Sato and Gasch have re-introduced this ability into the present-day strain by challenging a set of wild yeast cells to survive in an environment where xylose is the only carbon source. "There's essentially zero growth of the colony initially," Gasch says. Next, Gasch and Sato needed to ensure that Y128 would do its job well in the presence of environmental stressors, in this case the toxic chemicals used in pre-treating corn stover before its conversion into biofuel. "The combination of learning from nature, performing directed laboratory evolution, and genetically engineering specific properties into the strain is a very unique GLBRC approach," Gasch says. "It's been incredibly productive."

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