Wood-eating gribble holds key for biofuels to power ships of future

March 9th, 2010 - 6:06 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, March 9 (ANI): In a new research, scientists have demonstrated that the digestive system of the wood-eating gribble contains enzymes which could hold the key to converting wood and straw into liquid biofuels, which may power ships of the future.

The research was carried out by scientists at the BBSRC Sustainable Bioenergy Centre at the Universities of York and Portsmouth.

In the research, a team headed by Professor Simon McQueen-Mason and Professor Neil Bruce at York, and Dr Simon Cragg at Portsmouth revealed that the gribble digestive tract is dominated by enzymes that attack the polymers that make up wood.

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.

According to Professor McQueen-Mason, of the Centre for Novel Agricultural Products (CNAP) in the Department of Biology at York, “This may provide clues as to how this conversion could be performed in an industrial setting.”

The scientists at York are now studying the enzymes to establish how they work, and whether they can be adapted to industrial applications.

Perhaps one day soon, seafarers will be sailing the seas on ships powered with biofuels produced with gribble enzymes. (ANI)

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