Termites Could Act as Low-cost Biofuel Refinery

Washington, Jul 6 (IANS): Termites, one of the peskiest household pests, could become a cheap source of biofuels for fuel-consuming four wheelers.

A cocktail of enzymes from guts of termites seems better at getting around the barriers that inhibit fuel output from woody biomass, according to a new study.

"People have overlooked the host termite as a source of enzymes that could be used in the production of biofuels," said Mike Scharf, professor in molecular physiology and urban entomology at Purdue University.

"For a long time it was thought that the symbionts (small organisms in termites' guts), were solely responsible for digestion," said Scharf, reports the journal Public Library of Science One.

"Certainly the symbionts do a lot, but what we've shown is that the host produces enzymes that work in synergy with the enzymes produced by those symbionts," said Scharf, according to a Purdue statement.

"When you combine the functions of the host enzymes with the symbionts, it's like one plus one equals four," he added.


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