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Inhabitat.com: Panda Poop Could be the Key to Cheap and Efficient Biofuel Production


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The sleuths at slashdot find another gem. Link.

Giant Pandas are well-loved for their distinctive appearance and sedentary nature. Now they will receive even greater adoration and attention for their bowel-based contribution to the development of a clean energy future. In a national meeting at the American Chemical Society, researchers presented a study identifying panda poop as a source of enzyme-producing bacteria that breaks down plant materials in a way that is useful for biofuel production.
Inspired by the giant panda’s voracious appetite for bamboo, scientists began to study the fecal matter of giant pandas at the Memphis Zoo. A year of samples indicated that the pandas have a unique ability to convert lignocellulose from plant matter into energy. In fact, gut bacteria of a giant panda can convert 95 percent of the plant’s biomass into simple sugars. This is a marked improvement upon bark beetles, termites, and the ruminant stomachs of cattle, which have also contain biomass conversion capable enzymes.
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