Fungi in goat guts could make better fuels — study

Source: By Matt McGrath, BBC News • Posted: Monday, February 22, 2016

Researchers say the fungi found in the stomachs of goats which allow the animals to break down a variety of inedible materials could also help scientists create more cost effective biofuels.

In a study published in Science, authors say the fungi has preformed as well as the biofuel industry’s best engineered attempts.

To test the organism, scientists collected fresh manure and isolated three uncharacterized cultures from goats, sheep and horses. They found the fungi excretes an enzyme that effectively breaks down plant material.

“Because gut fungi have more tools to convert biomass to fuel, they could work faster and on a larger variety of plant material,” said Michelle O’Malley, the lead author from the University of California, Santa Barbara. “That would open up many opportunities for the biofuel industry.”

Another author of the study said more research needs to be done on the microorganism, saying they may “hold the key to the renewable technology”