PASADENA, Calif. --- Termites, jungle bugs and other microbes may hold the key to making ethanol production more cost-efficient, according to a report in the L.A. Times. Researchers at Caltech, the Energy Department’s Joint Genome Institute, biotech company Iogen Corp. and other facilities are exploring ways to use microbes to break down cellulose -- in straw, corn stalks and other materials -- into sugars to create ethanol. Caltech researchers are studying the guts of termites to learn more about turning wood chips into ethanol. The 200 or so microbes that live inside termite bellies enable the pests to convert wood to energy. Some researchers are even exploring whether creating new microbes through DNA can produce the necessary enzymes for efficient ethanol production.

Originally posted on Fleet Financials

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