Aussies See Big Business in Small Life Forms

Here’s an investment tip from Down Under: bacteria. That’s right — Australian scientists are creating a range of bacteria-based products to help clean up the environment, and, while they’re at it, reap some of the riches of a $5 billion global market in environmental biotechnology. A coalition of Australian universities, research institutes, and industries officially announced a quest for “bacteria power” today. That quest includes finding the best bacteria for cleaning up contaminants, converting waste into usable products, and replacing toxic chemicals with benign ones. The fact that useful bacteria are often found in extreme environments, such as volcanoes and high-temperature hot springs, may provide a competitive edge to Australia, whose territory extends from the tropics to the Antarctic.