A Creature From an Alkaline Spring Could Improve Biofuel Processing

As a promising prospect for biofuel production, scientists at Berkeley Lab are studying bacteria that live on decaying vegetation in alkaline springs in an isolated region of the California Coast. Highly alkaline liquids pretreat biofuel feedstocks like switchgrass, breaking down the woody matrix to release sugars microorganisms can feed on. But what if bugs could swim in the alkali, break down the lignin, and ferment the sugars all in one fell swoop?