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United Kingdom Biotech Power Science

Wood Eating Gribbles May Hold Key To Biofuels 4

MikeChino writes "What's a gribble? It's a tiny marine shrimp found on the southern coast of Britain — and its ability to digest wood may provide a breakthrough in efficient biofuel production. Researchers are studying the gribble's digestion process at a new UK bioenergy center in order to synthetically copy the process so that grasses, husk, straw and willow can be converted more efficiently into biofuels. The scientists reckon that information learned from the gribble could increase the efficiency of biofuel conversion by a factor of 6, making biofuels even more cost effective while utilizing non-food crops."
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Wood Eating Gribbles May Hold Key To Biofuels

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  • How exactly does a marine shrimp living at the bottom of the ocean evolve good wood-eating skills?

    • Practice. Practice. Practice....

    • Apparently they don't live at the bottom. From TFA:

      The gribble is found in the water chewing on rotting logs, boats, and docks, and to this point it has been considered an annoying pest.

      I'm guessing the logs were a bigger proportion of their diet before human beings came along.

  • I wonder what the big difference is between this creature and termites? Both digest cellulose (wood) into sugars and use them for energy, right? Gut bacteria do this in termites. Sounds great, but I suspect there's a long road from here to easy biofuel production from cellulose. Otherwise, I'm thinking we'd have come up with an system based on termites already.

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