- WEB EXCLUSIVE
- PE COFFEEHAUS
Researchers published a study in the journal Science on Thursday, Jan. 27, 2011. The study was the results of observing how cows break down the material in their digestive tracts to extract the sugars.
The scientists used a process known as cannula. That is the placement of a tube that allows access to an organ in a body. In this case, they inserted the tube with a large flange just to the side of the spine of a cow. The tube opened into the first of the cow's stomachs, which allowed researchers direct access. As a result, they identified 27,755 candidate genes for further study. The process does not harm the bovines and they can be restored to normal afterward.
Currently, corn is used to manufacture ethanol. As a result, prices have increased for corn and corn related food products. Farmers have switched their fields from food corn to grow corn for ethanol production as the profit margins are better.
Switchgrass replenishes faster and if science can develop enzymes that can break down the fibers and extract the sugars more cost effectively than corn processes, it will really be a boon to ethanol energy production and help lower food costs.
Researchers said that this approach made perfect sense. They said that animals that consume plant materials have had millions of years to develop microbes that could efficiently pull the sugars from these materials. All we have to do is figure out what they already use. The data was made available so that other researchers could use it to further their progress in this area.