Chemist Charles Lee inspects a petri dish containing xylan, a component of the hemicellulose in plant cell walls. Bacteria that produce xylanase enzymes were streaked onto the dish in a wavy pattern, and the clear areas are where the xylanase is degrading the xylan. Xylanase is one of the battery of enzymes that produce simple sugars from cell walls, which can be utilized instead of sugar cane or corn products in ethanol production.
We are in a new era where sustainable energy is looked at seriously. With President Barack Obama’s green initiative, the future of Biofuel Science and Technology is promising. See what the Bioproduct Chemistry and Engineering (BCE) Unit at the USDA-ARS in Albany, California is doing on a bioconversion project that focuses on producing biofuels from agricultural waste and/or plant matter instead of valuable food resources by going to this link: http://www.ars.usda.gov/is/AR/archive/oct08/sugars1008.htm