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 scientists used atomic force microscopy combined with infrared spectroscopy (AFM-IR) to measure the size and map the distribution of oil inclusions inside of microorganism without staining or other special sample preparation. The same method also could help researchers identify other microbes that could be novel potential fuel sources.

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