Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Microbes: Fuel of the Future?

Mining new fuel sources is also about a "new money" source.
clipped from dsc.discovery.com
A reddish microbe found on the inside of a tree at a secret location in the rain forests of northern Patagonia could unlock the biofuel of the future, say scientists.

Its potential is so startling that the discoverers have coined the term "myco-diesel" -- a derivation of the word for fungus -- to describe the bouquet of hydrocarbons that it breathes.

"This is the only organism that has ever been shown to produce such an important combination of fuel substances," said Gary Strobel, a professor of biology at Montana State University.

"The fungus can even make these diesel compounds from cellulose, which would make it a better source of biofuel that anything we use at the moment."

The study appears on Tuesday in a peer-reviewed British journal Microbiology.

Strobel, a 70-year-old veteran of the world's rain forests, said that he came across Gliocladium roseum thanks to "two cases of serendipity."

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