The algae can digest cellulose into biofuels


21/11/2012

Biologists have demonstrated the ability of single-celled algae feed on plant foods, like bacteria, fungi and animals. This feature of Chlamydomonas can find their wide application in the production of biofuels.

The results of the scientific work performed by researchers from the University of Bielefeld (Germany), have been published in the edition of Nature Communications.

It has long been known that the green alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii species is often used as an example in biological research. But, as it turned out, is not all the features of this organism have been known to scientists. Researchers have shown that Chlamydomonas with a deficit of CO2 and sunlight can change your diet, going to food cellulose.

To this end, it allocates a special enzyme to the external environment - endoglucanase splitting into individual sugar molecules of cellulose, which are then absorbed by algae. As the results of genetic analysis, the genes encoding these enzymes are present and of heterotrophic bacteria and other organisms that are capable of digesting wood easily.

"This ability was first discovered in the plant body, and this in turn forces us to reassess the information found in the textbooks," - said one of the study authors Olaf Cruz. He argues that the Chlamydomonas occurred much earlier period of separation from the plant organisms, so she kept the genes characteristic of heterotrophs.

Now scientists are trying to use waste paper or other cellulose-containing raw materials for the production of biofuels. Nevertheless, for the primary treatment must apply its enzymes secreted by fungi. The use of algae for conversion of cellulose will allow researchers to significantly reduce the cost of the process.


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