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Published on November 3rd, 2008 | by Andrew Williams

22

Fungi Discovered in Patagonia Rainforest Could Be Used to Make Biodiesel

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American scientists have discovered a fungus deep in the Patagonian rainforest that makes biodiesel as part of its natural lifecycle. The fungus is the only organism that has ever been shown to produce such an important combination of fuel sources.

According to team member Prof. Gary Strobel of Montana State University, “The fungus can even make these diesel compounds from cellulose, which would make it a better source of biofuel than anything we use at the moment.”

In its natural habitat the fungus, which the team have labelled Gliocladium Roseum, produces several different molecules that have been shown to contain long chain hydrocarbons of the type found in diesel. However, when the team grew the fungi under laboratory conditions it produced a biofuel that is even more similar to the diesel used in cars.

G. Roseum can even be used to make myco-diesel directly from cellulose, meaning that, if the fungus were to be used for large scale biodiesel production, a complete step in the production process could be skipped. The experiments have completely astounded the team. Speaking about the outcome, Prof. Strobel said, “The results were totally unexpected and very exciting and almost every hair on my arms stood on end.”

This is a fertile period for discoveries in the field of non-food based biofuel. Earlier this week, a team of scientists in Thailand reported the discovery of a new algae species that they are confident can be used to manufacture biodiesel.

Image Credit – tauntingpanda via flickr.com on a Creative Commons license

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About the Author

is a writer and freelance journalist specialising in sustainability and green issues. He lives in Cardiff, Wales.



  • T Ellig
  • T Ellig
  • T Ellig
  • Tim Cleland

    Dam! This is an exciting time to be alive! I love hearing about things like this.

  • Tim Cleland

    Dam! This is an exciting time to be alive! I love hearing about things like this.

  • Tim Cleland

    Dam! This is an exciting time to be alive! I love hearing about things like this.

  • R. Strykland

    Dam! People could be eating cellulose! Food vs. fuels again! Quick. The UN to the rescue!

  • R. Strykland

    Dam! People could be eating cellulose! Food vs. fuels again! Quick. The UN to the rescue!

  • R. Strykland

    Dam! People could be eating cellulose! Food vs. fuels again! Quick. The UN to the rescue!

  • M Donley

    Could someone be a bit more place specific here? I haven’t lived in Patagonia but I have traveled there– from Buenos Aires, to Neuquen, to Comodoro Rivadavia, on to Punta Arenas in southern Chile and, outside of the foothills portion on the eastern slope of the southern Andes, I don’t remember great expanses of forest, let alone “rain forest”. Grass and scrub, yes, but Patagonia is mainly a desert/steppe. Is this really a discovery of significance or just more wishful thinking and green/environmental BS?

  • M Donley

    Could someone be a bit more place specific here? I haven’t lived in Patagonia but I have traveled there– from Buenos Aires, to Neuquen, to Comodoro Rivadavia, on to Punta Arenas in southern Chile and, outside of the foothills portion on the eastern slope of the southern Andes, I don’t remember great expanses of forest, let alone “rain forest”. Grass and scrub, yes, but Patagonia is mainly a desert/steppe. Is this really a discovery of significance or just more wishful thinking and green/environmental BS?

  • M Donley

    Could someone be a bit more place specific here? I haven’t lived in Patagonia but I have traveled there– from Buenos Aires, to Neuquen, to Comodoro Rivadavia, on to Punta Arenas in southern Chile and, outside of the foothills portion on the eastern slope of the southern Andes, I don’t remember great expanses of forest, let alone “rain forest”. Grass and scrub, yes, but Patagonia is mainly a desert/steppe. Is this really a discovery of significance or just more wishful thinking and green/environmental BS?

  • Ookii Mamoru

    The big question. Will this be commercially viable?

  • Ookii Mamoru

    The big question. Will this be commercially viable?

  • Ookii Mamoru

    The big question. Will this be commercially viable?

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  • http://www.tweetportal.com News Portal Guy

    Very cool! It would be neat to see a large-scale, fungus-producing biodiesel facility someday.

  • http://www.tweetportal.com News Portal Guy

    Very cool! It would be neat to see a large-scale, fungus-producing biodiesel facility someday.

  • http://www.tweetportal.com News Portal Guy

    Very cool! It would be neat to see a large-scale, fungus-producing biodiesel facility someday.

  • Uncle B

    It is a matter of scale! As the “Cheap Oil Era” draws to a close, and as a larger portion of the finite world’s resources are shared by Americans with the new and rising Asian Empire, Americans will have to find alternatives to massive oil consumption of the past. The astounding consumption measured by tanker-ship loads per hour will never be matched by any other means! Nuclear, the next great hope for immediate and huge power release such as oil was, cannot be made into liquid fuels as Americans are accustomed to, and must be converted from heat to Electricity to be exploited – hence Obama’s cry for Electric Bullet Trains, battery cars and the like. All other substitutes for light crude oil will be expensive but will buffer the shortages and help in the transition over the next 4 or 5 decades to an almost oil free society in America. This convulsive paradigm shift is upon Americans now, as the American built V-8 car disappears from roadways replaced by foreign 4 cylinder marvels, hybrids, and soon Hybrid Euro-Diesels, as the Saudis religious wishes are turned to facing realities here on earth and wells there dry up! Iraq will buffer the “Oil Crunch” but Turkmenistan’s oil, gas is closer to Russia and only 350 miles of pipeline from China’s borders, and they will pump more, and faster than the Halliburton(Dubai)’s pipe-dream through Afghanistan ever will! Iran’s Southern Azadegan Oil Fields have already been sold by the Ayatollahs to China, and lay protected their by “Secret” Chinese nukes much like the American “Secret” nukes in Israel – thus balancing the mutual destruction equation in the Middle East! All else we here from that corner is saber rattling Bull Shiite! Yemen has no Oil and will be given mostly lip service for its foray into harboring “Bad People” to attract Yankee money! America can go Solar-Thermal, or Wind on the Prairie Wind Corridor but more attractive to big money and corporate tastes are huge tangible, formidable and dangerous nuclear reactors, and the fuel play already set up, and the cities that will grow around them and are the most likely route, but the convenient “Liquid Fuel” gasoline is destined to disappear from America in Decades, no longer, as peak oil has been passed and consumption increased, by America and a fuel hungry Asia. The Asian Yuan, stronger than the very weakened U.S. dollar will take a huge portion of world’s oil away from the U.S.A. in the near future, complicating the situation very quickly for American consumption for sure.

  • Uncle B

    It is a matter of scale! As the “Cheap Oil Era” draws to a close, and as a larger portion of the finite world’s resources are shared by Americans with the new and rising Asian Empire, Americans will have to find alternatives to massive oil consumption of the past. The astounding consumption measured by tanker-ship loads per hour will never be matched by any other means! Nuclear, the next great hope for immediate and huge power release such as oil was, cannot be made into liquid fuels as Americans are accustomed to, and must be converted from heat to Electricity to be exploited – hence Obama’s cry for Electric Bullet Trains, battery cars and the like. All other substitutes for light crude oil will be expensive but will buffer the shortages and help in the transition over the next 4 or 5 decades to an almost oil free society in America. This convulsive paradigm shift is upon Americans now, as the American built V-8 car disappears from roadways replaced by foreign 4 cylinder marvels, hybrids, and soon Hybrid Euro-Diesels, as the Saudis religious wishes are turned to facing realities here on earth and wells there dry up! Iraq will buffer the “Oil Crunch” but Turkmenistan’s oil, gas is closer to Russia and only 350 miles of pipeline from China’s borders, and they will pump more, and faster than the Halliburton(Dubai)’s pipe-dream through Afghanistan ever will! Iran’s Southern Azadegan Oil Fields have already been sold by the Ayatollahs to China, and lay protected their by “Secret” Chinese nukes much like the American “Secret” nukes in Israel – thus balancing the mutual destruction equation in the Middle East! All else we here from that corner is saber rattling Bull Shiite! Yemen has no Oil and will be given mostly lip service for its foray into harboring “Bad People” to attract Yankee money! America can go Solar-Thermal, or Wind on the Prairie Wind Corridor but more attractive to big money and corporate tastes are huge tangible, formidable and dangerous nuclear reactors, and the fuel play already set up, and the cities that will grow around them and are the most likely route, but the convenient “Liquid Fuel” gasoline is destined to disappear from America in Decades, no longer, as peak oil has been passed and consumption increased, by America and a fuel hungry Asia. The Asian Yuan, stronger than the very weakened U.S. dollar will take a huge portion of world’s oil away from the U.S.A. in the near future, complicating the situation very quickly for American consumption for sure.

  • Uncle B

    It is a matter of scale! As the “Cheap Oil Era” draws to a close, and as a larger portion of the finite world’s resources are shared by Americans with the new and rising Asian Empire, Americans will have to find alternatives to massive oil consumption of the past. The astounding consumption measured by tanker-ship loads per hour will never be matched by any other means! Nuclear, the next great hope for immediate and huge power release such as oil was, cannot be made into liquid fuels as Americans are accustomed to, and must be converted from heat to Electricity to be exploited – hence Obama’s cry for Electric Bullet Trains, battery cars and the like. All other substitutes for light crude oil will be expensive but will buffer the shortages and help in the transition over the next 4 or 5 decades to an almost oil free society in America. This convulsive paradigm shift is upon Americans now, as the American built V-8 car disappears from roadways replaced by foreign 4 cylinder marvels, hybrids, and soon Hybrid Euro-Diesels, as the Saudis religious wishes are turned to facing realities here on earth and wells there dry up! Iraq will buffer the “Oil Crunch” but Turkmenistan’s oil, gas is closer to Russia and only 350 miles of pipeline from China’s borders, and they will pump more, and faster than the Halliburton(Dubai)’s pipe-dream through Afghanistan ever will! Iran’s Southern Azadegan Oil Fields have already been sold by the Ayatollahs to China, and lay protected their by “Secret” Chinese nukes much like the American “Secret” nukes in Israel – thus balancing the mutual destruction equation in the Middle East! All else we here from that corner is saber rattling Bull Shiite! Yemen has no Oil and will be given mostly lip service for its foray into harboring “Bad People” to attract Yankee money! America can go Solar-Thermal, or Wind on the Prairie Wind Corridor but more attractive to big money and corporate tastes are huge tangible, formidable and dangerous nuclear reactors, and the fuel play already set up, and the cities that will grow around them and are the most likely route, but the convenient “Liquid Fuel” gasoline is destined to disappear from America in Decades, no longer, as peak oil has been passed and consumption increased, by America and a fuel hungry Asia. The Asian Yuan, stronger than the very weakened U.S. dollar will take a huge portion of world’s oil away from the U.S.A. in the near future, complicating the situation very quickly for American consumption for sure.

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