Bacteria may simplify cellulosic ethanol process

By | September 15, 2009
Bacteria discovered in a decaying sweetgum tree may improve the preprocessing steps for cost-effective production of cellulosic ethanol. JDR-2, a strain of Paenibacillus, can break down and digest hemicelluloses, which in traditional cellulosic ethanol production is broken down by acid hydrolysis. A research team from the University of Florida isolated the strain in 2003, and has mapped out the genome and will work to transfer JDR-2's abilities to bacteria already used for ethanol production through genetic engineering. Cellulosic conversion to fermentable sugars is a major roadblock in the cost-effective production of cellulosic ethanol.