Researchers at the universities of York and Portsmouth propose to utilize the wood-digesting trait of a gribble species called Limnoria quadripunctata to convert wood and straw into liquid biofuel. Brought together in a gribble-like processing plant, the crustaceans could make alcohol-based fuels for vehicle engines since they produce enzymes that break down cellulosic raw material into energy-rich sugars. The researchers carried out extensive research on the digestive genes of the marine pest.
Professor Simon McQueen-Mason, the project leader, said…
This may provide clues as to how this conversion could be performed in an industrial setting.
Instead of having symbiotic microbes, gribbles have a long digestive tract filled with enzymes from the glycosyl hydrolase family to disintegrate cellulose and lignin. The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) Sustainable Bioenergy Centre, a £26 million network of expert groups looking at bioenergy, made the research possible.