But new research by scientists at the BBSRC Sustainable Bioenergy Centre at the Universities of York and Portsmouth is uncovering how the tiny marine isopod digests the apparently indigestible.
By examining genes that are expressed in the guts of gribble, the researchers have demonstrated that its digestive system contains enzymes which could hold the key to converting wood and straw into liquid biofuels.
In research published today, a team headed by Professor Simon McQueen-Mason and Professor Neil Bruce at York, and Dr Simon Cragg at Portsmouth reveal that the gribble digestive tract is dominated by enzymes that attack the polymers that make up wood. One of the most abundant enzymes is a cellulose degrading enzyme never before seen in animals.
The research is published in the latest issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA (PNAS).
Unlike termites and other wood-eating animals, gribble have no helpful microbes in their digestive system. This means that they must possess all of the enzymes needed to convert wood into sugars themselves.Professor McQueen-Mason, of the Centre for Novel Agricultural Products (CNAP) in the Department of Biology at York, said: "This may provide clues as to how this conversion could be performed in an industrial setting."
Duncan Eggar, BBSRC Bioenergy Champion, said: "The world needs to quickly reduce its dependence on fossil fuels and sustainably produced bioenergy offers the potential to rapidly introduce liquid transport fuels into our current energy mix."
The BBSRC Sustainable Bioenergy Centre is a £26M research investment by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council and has six research programmes at universities and research institutes.
David Garner | EurekAlert!
Single-stranded DNA and RNA origami go live
15.12.2017 | Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard
New antbird species discovered in Peru by LSU ornithologists
15.12.2017 | Louisiana State University
DNA molecules that follow specific instructions could offer more precise molecular control of synthetic chemical systems, a discovery that opens the door for engineers to create molecular machines with new and complex behaviors.
Researchers have created chemical amplifiers and a chemical oscillator using a systematic method that has the potential to embed sophisticated circuit...
MPQ scientists achieve long storage times for photonic quantum bits which break the lower bound for direct teleportation in a global quantum network.
Concerning the development of quantum memories for the realization of global quantum networks, scientists of the Quantum Dynamics Division led by Professor...
Researchers have developed a water cloaking concept based on electromagnetic forces that could eliminate an object's wake, greatly reducing its drag while...
Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.
To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...
The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.
Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...
11.12.2017 | Event News
08.12.2017 | Event News
07.12.2017 | Event News
15.12.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering
15.12.2017 | Materials Sciences
15.12.2017 | Life Sciences