Myco-diesel fungus Gliocladium roseum
A tree fungus could provide green fuel that can be pumped directly into vehicle tanks, US scientists say. The organism, found in the Patagonian rainforest, naturally produces a mixture of chemicals that is remarkably similar to diesel.
“This is the only organism that has ever been shown to produce such an important combination of fuel substances,” said Gary Strobel, a plant scientist from Montana State University, who led the work. “We were totally surprised to learn that it was making a plethora of hydrocarbons.”
In principle, biofuels are attractive replacements for liquid fossil fuels used in transport that generate greenhouse gases. The European Union has set biofuel targets of 5.75% by 2010 and 10% by 2020…Producing biofuels sustainably is now a target and this latest work has been greeted by experts as an encouraging step.
The fungus, called Gliocladium roseum and discovered growing inside the ulmo tree in northern Patagonia, produces a range of hydrocarbon molecules that are virtually identical to the fuel-grade compounds in existing fossil fuels. Details of the concoction, which Strobel calls “mycodiesel”, will be published in the November issue of the journal Microbiology. “The results were totally unexpected and very exciting…” said Strobel.
I love it. I’ve known a couple of micro-biologists who’d like to be starting their careers all over again to work on something like this. Fascinating – and encouraging.