At the National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society in New Orleans, Michelle A. O'Malley of the University of California, Santa Barbara, said that scientists have been studying the bacteria in the digestive tracts of animals such as horses and cows for years, but not the fungi.
That was largely because the number of fungi found in the cow patties and road apples left behind didn't have that many fungal species in it, or much fungus. So nobody realized their importance. O'Malley told Discovery News that one hallmark of these fungi is how common they are.
O'Malley's lab is working on how to get the bacteria currently used in biofuel production to make the enzymes that the fungi do, or culture the fungi at a larger scale. She said one challenge with doing so is that the fungi can't survive in the presence of oxygen, and their growth media is relatively specialized.
Who said you can't polish a turd?
Credit: John K. Henske