In Texas, Joshua Yuan’s lab at Texas A&M University, United States, in a report in PLoS Genetics, compared the genetics of microbes found in the intestinal tracts of grasshoppers, termites and cutworm catepillars. In addition to confirming the attractive diversity of promising enzymes for breakdown of cellulosic material for biofuels, the researchers found that grasshoppers have more potential than previously understood.
The team also found that the enzymes adapt to changes in food type – and that this characteristic may be exploited in order to design better systems for breaking down cellulose and lignin. Yuan’s lab landed a $2.4M DOE grant to investigate means of breaking down lignin using microbial and termite-based enzymes.
More background on the story from the Digest