Somehow termites convert to wood into energy to power their festering hordes, and now a group of scientists and engineers–representing a consortium of government and corporate institutes–intends to learn how humans can do the same to power our Ipods. The November 22nd issue of the science journal Nature discusses this new, novel approach to producing biofuels.
Ok, ok, so power plants of the mid-2000s might not be filled to the brim with writhing piles of termites as implied by the title of this article, but it’s still kind of interesting. Really, the scientists are hoping to break down the wood-digesting microbes inside of termite’s stomachs, and sequence their genomes.
The termite lobby will soon have our government in the palm of its hand
Says Dr. Raymond L. Orbach, Under Secretary for Science at the U.S. Department of Energy in this article, “Industrial-scale DNA sequencing…was key to identifying the genetic structures that comprise the tools that termites use. Our task now is to discover the metabolic pathways generated by these structures to figure out how nature digests plant materials. We can then synthesize the novel enzymes discovered through this project to accelerate the delivery of the next generation of cellulosic biofuels.” He added, “Does that make you hot?”
Despite the fact that that guy is a TOTAL PERV, it is a cool idea, albeit probably pretty far away from actual commercial viability.