Friday, December 16, 2011

Biofuel Research Boosted by Revelations on How Blue-Green Algae Make Energy

This story is close to my heart as biofuel research is the area of microbiology I'm going to be working in. This area of study has been growing by leaps and bounds. Bacteria have been found that can produce ethanol (which can be used as auto fuel), jet fuel, gasoline, electricity, and even a biodegradable non-petroleum-based plastic. These microscopic organisms may very well be the "green" alternative to fossil-fuel-based energy we've been looking for.

This article describes how the "missing" link in the Krebs cycle (or TCA cycle--tricarboxylic acid) of blue-green algae (cyanobacteria) has been discovered.


  1. I think this says a lot about the real way that science is conducted. I agree with your last post about the correct approach to science, but why did it fail in the above case, I remember having an argument in the pub with one of my lecturers about this missing link, I argued that evolution didn't make mistakes that were allowed to be fecund, he claimed it obviously had and here was the proof. Anyway glad this has been sorted out, but I think when they rewrite the book a section about the scientific approach should be added with this story in it.

  2. It probably all comes down to human nature. We're all prone to mistakes and lapses in judgment. In my mind, the beauty of the scientific method is that those mistakes eventually get weeded out because of peer review. This is what makes the scientific method the best way we have of understanding the world around us.

  3. Agreed, but still,,, the hypothesis in both cases was a negative approach, because it would be provable. Ie the organism / organelle does not produce 'x' where 'x' is a substance, protein, DNA or RNA strand. The hypothesis should have been; this organism has a way of completing the krebs cycle, that we currently don't know. If they had then set about trying to disprove that theory then they would have failed, and investigation / research would have continued.