(From now on, the stories will be about Environmental News, not just about trees, tho quite often they are closely related.)
The Promise of Affordable Transportation Fuels from Biomass – resistance in plants to microbial degradation evolved over millions of years, resulting in rigid cell walls that have been the key to their survival, but are a major impediment to biofuel production. Understanding and solving this issue has been the core mission of the BioEnergy Science Center. Janet Westpheling, a professor in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences department of genetics, and her team of researchers succeeded in genetically engineering the organism C. bescii to deconstruct un-pretreated plant biomass. “Without any pretreatment, we can simply take switchgrass, grind it up, add a low-cost, minimal salts medium and get ethanol out the other end. This is the first step toward an industrial process that is economically feasible.”
and: Climate Change: Termites and Fungi Play More Important Role in Decomposition Than Temperature – it seems that these organisms carry out about three quarters of wood decomposition, while climate only about one quarter, contrary to the expectation that climate should be the predominant control.