A microbe has been engineered to convert plant matter into ethanol biofuel in a single step.
US researchers took a bacterium which can convert plant matter into sugars and added genes from another species which can convert the sugars into ethanol.
The new bug can convert switchgrass to ethanol with 70% efficiency.
Janet Westpheling of the University of Georgia and colleagues say the results of their study suggest that a single bacterium may help bypass expensive chemical and enzymatic biomass pre-treatments by performing all stages of ethanol production directly from raw switchgrass biomass.
The study is published in PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences).
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