Patagonia Fungus Produces “Myco-Diesel”


Researchers have identified a fungus found in the Patagonia forest that produces a new type of diesel fuel. Tests indicated that the fungus Gliocladium roseum, which grows on the branches of a tree called Eucryphia cordifolia, produces compounds normally associated with diesel fuel, which is obtained from crude oil. Will the fungi be able to produce enough to be a viable alternative source of fuel? Perhpas indirectly, according to the researchers.

“The main value of this discovery may not be the organism itself, but may be the genes responsible for the production of these gases,” Gary Strobel said.”There are certain enzymes that are responsible for the conversion of substrates such as cellulose to myco-diesel.”

Scott Strobel said his team is already screening the fungus’ genome. Besides determining the complete genetic makeup of the fungus, they will run a series of genetic and biochemical tests to identify the genes responsible for its diesel-making properties.

“The broader question is, what is responsible for the production of these compounds,” Scott Strobel said. “If you can identify that, you can hopefully scale it up so you end up with better efficiency of production.”


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