While the debate over using crops for fuel continues, scientists are now reporting a new, fast approach to develop biofuel in a way that doesn’t require removing valuable farmland from the food production chain.

Their work examining the fuel-producing potential of Streptomyces, a soil bacterium known for making antibiotics, appears in ACS’ The Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters (“Monitoring TriAcylGlycerols Accumulation by Atomic Force Microscopy Based Infrared Spectroscopy in Streptomyces Species for Biodiesel Applications”).

The method also could help researchers identify other microbes that could be novel potential fuel sources.Ariane Deniset-Besseau and colleagues point out that with the rise in oil prices in recent years, the search has been on for alternative fuels.

Though plants such as soy and corn have been popular, the honeymoon ended as people realized how much arable land they were taking up.

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