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Goats and sheep could make biomass processing cheaper and more efficient

Go to the profile of Heidi Burdett
Feb 20, 2016
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Garden overgrown with brambles and weeds? Get the goats in and it’ll be cleared in no time thanks to their astonishing ability to digest almost everything.

Now, by harnessing the power of their indestructible microbiome, biomass processing may become cheaper and more efficient. Published in Science this week and covered by a number of news channels, Solomon and colleagues isolated fungi from the guts of sheep and goats and found they produce a huge range of biomass-degrading enzymes – far more than the organisms typically used by the biofuel industry. Their enzymatic profile was also highly responsive to changes in substrate, making the degradation process more efficient and opening up opportunities for the biomass industry to utilise other base materials.

Go to the profile of Heidi Burdett

Heidi Burdett

Editor, Nature Microbiology

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Go to the profile of Michael Chao
Michael Chao about 2 years ago

They actually brought in goats to Boston a couple years back to help clear out a huge patch of poison ivy in a park they were redeveloping. Human workers just couldn't access the site for its sheer size and the logistical nightmare of trying to weed in thick protective gear in the middle of summer. So they just trucked in a few goats from a nearby farm, fenced them into the plot for a few weeks and presto, no more poison ivy (and lots of natural fertilizer on the ground to boot). I think the totally cost was a couple of grand. Now, the question is which microbe is responsible for destroying poison ivy's auto-inflammatory inducing compounds...