this week on The Treetalker

(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.


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