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How a Rot Got Hot

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rot2.jpgIf your attention is currently absorbed by a mysterious green growth on the edge of your sandwich or a bad case of athlete's foot, you may have a hard time believing fungi can be our friends.

But as global attention turns to woody biomass as a potential source of feedstock for liquid fuels, wood-rotting fungi are finding their moment in the sun.

The goal of these fungi, says IonE resident fellow Jonathan Schilling, is to release sugars from wood. That happens to the the goal of bioprocessing to make ethanol, too. So why not take a lesson from the pro?

Schilling, an assistant professor of bioproducts and biosystems engineering in the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resources Sciences, is doing just that. He's studying brown rot fungi to learn how they release sugar from non-edible parts of plants - in hopes of setting the stage to adapt their tricks to improving our ability to turn biomass to biofuel.

Want to learn more? Curl up in your favorite chair and watch "How a Rot Got Hot" - Schilling's recent Frontiers in the Environment talk.                            

Photo courtesy of Jonathan Schilling

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