Sunday, October 26, 2008

Termites Helping the World?

On Friday, in Intro Bio, Dr. Feinstein talked about beta linkages and their roles in plants. Beta linkages give atoms in plants a ribbon structure that allows for thousands of hydrogen bonds to be made. These linkages also create strength in plants, but humans lack the enzymes that break these bonds down. A symbiotic bacteria, that exists only in termites, is able to break these beta linkages and convert wood into energy. The mention of termites made me remember a recent article in The Atlantic that discussed this bacteria and its potential role in biofuel production. Termites, or rather the bacteria in termites, are able to extract "sugars, CO2, hydrogen, and methane with 90 percent efficiency." Researchers are now trying to find ways to achieve this efficiency in biofuel production.

photo from wikipedia

No comments: