January 12, 2009

Fungi could feed biofuel production

Tap the power of fungi to digest wood and you have a simple way to produce biofuel feedstock.

Fungi have evolved to break down cellulose and lignin -- the two main components of the cell walls of trees, shrubs and grasses -- to access nutrients in the plants. This is also a key step in making biofuels from wood, grass and agricultural waste.

Researchers have been successful in breaking down cellulose, but breaking down lignin has proven more difficult.

Biofuel producers could use fungi directly as a low-cost means of producing feedstock. Researchers could also study how fungi break down lignen to mimic and optimize the process.

Research paper:
Lignocellulosic Residues: Biodegradation and Bioconversion by Fungi
Biotechnology Advances, published online November 24, 2008

Researcher's homepage:
Carmen Sánchez

Related stories and briefs:
Process makes gas from biomass -- related research
Biomass-to-biofuel simplified -- related research

Back to ERN January 12/19, 2009



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