Data Dive: Boosting Yeast's Appetite for Sugars

High School
Stand-Alone Activity

Can microbiologists engineer new strains of yeast to produce more biofuel from the same amount of plant biomass? In this GLBRC Data Dive, students learn about how scientists Trey Sato and Audrey Gasch are using directed evolution techniques to create mutant yeast strains that can ferment all of the sugars in plant biomass, not just the glucose. Students analyze a data set from one of the scientist’s fermentation experiments to determine how a new mutant yeast strain performs compared to a standard yeast variety. Extend the learning by combing this activity with the Modern Scientist-Engineer in the World of Fermentation research story, Fermentation in a Bag activity, Fermentation Challenge: Making Ethanol from Cellulose activity, and CB2E: Converting Cellulosic Biomass to Ethanol lab. 

Read this short introduction to GLBRC Data Dives to learn what they are and how to use them in science classes.

This activity is based on the "data nugget" curriculum model developed by scientists and educators at the Kellogg Biological Station. To learn more and view similar data nugget activities, visit:

Environmental Science
Biodiversity & Evolution
Fermentation & Enzymes
Biomass, directed evolution, fermentation, data analysis, scientific argumentation, nature of science
Prior Knowledge
Familiarity with scientific method, hypothesis testing, graphing, graph interpretation, and basic statistics helpful.
Time Required
One or two 50-minute class periods
Required Supplies
Download materials in activity package.