A version of this article originally appeared on Clean Technica.
In an ironic twist, genomics researchers have stumbled upon an incredible discovery — the same ancestral fungus that ended coal formation millennia ago may now be able to boost biofuel and bioenergy production.
The proposal, recently presented by a team of 71 researchers from 12 countries including the U.S. Department of Energy’s Joint Genome Institute (DOE JGI), may have identified what ended the development of coal deposits from fossilized plant remains 360-300 million years ago during the Carboniferous period.
Coal as an energy source is incredibly unique — combining one of the most potent available combinations of stored energy with the largest concentration of harmful emissions. But this uniqueness was entirely due to the absence of fungi capable of breaking down the lignin polymer that kept plant cell walls rigid enough to prevent decay.
Over millions of years, this “unbreakable” plant material conver... Read more