Termites' digestive system could
act as biofuel refinery
July 5, 2011
By Brian Wallheimer
One of the peskiest household pests, while disastrous to homes, could prove to be a boon for cars, according to a Purdue University study.
Mike Scharf, the O. Wayne Rollins/Orkin Chair in Molecular Physiology and Urban Entomology, said his laboratory has discovered a cocktail of enzymes from the guts of termites that may be better at getting around the barriers that inhibit fuel production from woody biomass. The Scharf Laboratory found that enzymes in termite guts are instrumental in the insects' ability to break down the wood they eat.