Researchers at the Arizona State University's Biodesign Institute believe that the ability of microorganisms to grow from an almost infinite variety of food sources may play a significant role in bailing out society from its current energy crisis. In the August 6 issue of Nature Reviews Microbiology, the ASU scientists outline paths where bacteria might provide the best hope in producing renewable energy in large quantities without damaging the environment or competing with our food supply.
During this week's GEN podcast, Dr. Bruce Rittman discusses two distinct but complementary avenues to using microbes as energy sources and talks about a number of specific energy applications. In addition, he describes the key steps for achieving large scale success in microbial bioenergy production. While acknowledging that the millions of bacterial species on the earth present engineers with a plethora of opportunities for energy applications, Dr. Rittmann also explores the significant challenges posed by working with this broad microbial biodiversity. He goes on to address the importance of the genomic technologies and other molecular biology techniques as they relate to the choice and use of bacteria for energy applications. He also points out the specific technologies that appear to be the most promising and looks closely at the roles these methodologies can play in microbial energy production.