If you read the headline and thought, "Well, that's nothing new," you're partly right. Using microorganisms to turn plants into something you can run through your fuel injectors is otherwise known as fermentation.
But the microscopic bugs used in moonshine stills and distilleries are pretty picky eaters. They like corn, wheat, rice, etc., but throw a corn stalk or a few tree branches in the mix and they just turn up their little noses.

A group of researchers now say they have found a fungus living inside the Ulmo trees of the Patagonian rain forest that happily turns any part of a plant into fuel. It's called Gliocladium roseum (that's it in the photo), and researchers at Yale University are trying to find a way to put it to work churning out gallons of diesel. They're quick to point out, though, that's a long way off.

But there's another twist in the discovery. The researchers bring up an interesting question. If this thing can turn plants into what closely resembles petrochemicals, could they possibly be responsible for part of the Earth's crude oil?

[Source: Wired Science]


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