Study: Insect guts hold clues to cellulose breakdown

01/28/2013 | SciDev.net

Researchers from Texas A&M University and their colleagues found that biocatalysts in the stomachs of herbivorous insects allow them to efficiently break down plant cellulose and lignin, a finding that could lead to the development of more cost-efficient systems for converting biomass into biofuels, according to a report in the journal PLoS Genetics. The biocatalysts could be used to model new enzymes for advanced-biofuel production, said Joshua Yuan, an assistant professor at Texas A&M whose laboratory received a $2.4 million federal grant to study the biofuel potential of enzymes found in termite guts.

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