Yellowstone Bacteria Could Be Hot for Ethanol

Cindy Zimmerman

A heat-loving bacteria discovered in Yellowstone Park has potential for the ethanol industry.

YellowstoneAccording to an article in the Jackson Hole News, Scientists found the bacteria, called Candidatus Chloracidobacterium termophilum, in Octopus and Mushroom springs and the Green Finger Pool, not far from Old Faithful. The bacterium grows best in temperatures between 120 and 150 degrees Fahrenheit and could help researchers drastically increase production of biofuels, according to Don Bryant, a professor of biotechnology, biochemistry and molecular biology at Penn State University.

Since his initial discovery, Bryant has gathered evidence that suggests Chloracidobacterium termophilum is aerobic, or breathes oxygen (another anomaly for a photosynthetic bacteria), and doesn’t take carbon from the atmosphere to increase its cell size and reproduce. Instead, Chloracidobacterium termophilum likely gets its carbon from the waste of other bacteria.

By removing waste products, Chloracidobacterium termophilum probably helps other bacteria grow much faster, a prospect that could lead to practical applications. Scientists are currently growing bacterial mats that they ferment to make ethanol. A bacteria that could double the production of biomass for ethanol production could be commercially valuable, Bryant said.

Cellulosic, Ethanol, News, Research