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Soil bacterium causes biofuel breakdown

Biofuels made from plant materials—also known as lignocellulosic biofuels—have promise as a source of sustainable alternative fuels thanks to soil bacterium known as Enterobacter lignolyticus SCF1. SCF1 degrades lignin and decomposes plant cell walls, allowing access to the cellulose sugars that plants use for energy. However, much remains to be learned about the processes and functions of SCF1 in breaking down lignin for use in biofuels.

But a study recently published by a team from the University of Massachusetts, the Joint BioEnergy Center, and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory reveals key insights about SCF1, including that it is the first soil bacterium to demonstrate the dual ability to degrade lignin both as a food source and for breathing.

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