Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?



Fungus Discovered That Makes Diesel from Cellulose

cellulosic ethanolThe setting for this discovery sounds like something out of a Dr. Seuss book. A fungus that grows in Ulmo trees in the Patagonian Rainforest is the source of a significant discovery.

“This is the only organism that has ever been shown to produce such an important combination of fuel substances,” said Professor Gary Strobel from Montana State University. “The fungus can even make these diesel compounds from cellulose, which would make it a better source of biofuel than anything we use at the moment.”

Like many scientific breakthroughs, scientists stumbled upon this discovery by accident.

“Gliocladium roseum lives inside the Ulmo tree in the Patagonian rainforest. We were trying to discover totally novel fungi in this tree by exposing its tissues to the volatile antibiotics of the fungus Muscodor albus. Quite unexpectedly, G. roseum grew in the presence of these gases when almost all other fungi were killed. It was also making volatile antibiotics. Then when we examined the gas composition of G. roseum, we were totally surprised to learn that it was making a plethora of hydrocarbons and hydrocarbon derivatives. The results were totally unexpected and very exciting and almost every hair on my arms stood on end!”

Lab tests have shown this fungus produces a substance even more similar to diesel fuel than it did in the wild. Genetic manipulation can help to increase the yield. Amazingly, cellulose can be directly converted into diesel, skipping a step typically needed in biofuel production. In other words, it can break down cellulose and produce a liquid fuel in the same process.

The next question is how cost effective this process is for making transportation fuels and further development may be needed to increase the yield of the fuel by the fungus. This process however could open up new sources of feedstock for producing fuel, such as agricultural waste. Like many initial discoveries, it has created more questions than answers.

“The discovery also questions our knowledge of the way fossil fuels are made. The accepted theory is that crude oil, which is used to make diesel, is formed from the remains of dead plants and animals that have been exposed to heat and pressure for millions of years,” said Professor Strobel. “If fungi like this are producing myco-diesel all over the rainforest, they may have contributed to the formation of fossil fuels.”

Related Posts on Alternative Energy:

Solar Fuels Nevada Economy

5 Top Countries for Renewable Energy Investment

Landfill Gas: A Valuable Resource?

First Solar Thermal Plant in 20 Years in CA

Green Muck Has Biofuel Investors Champing at the Bit


Appreciate CleanTechnica’s originality? Consider becoming a CleanTechnica Member, Supporter, Technician, or Ambassador — or a patron on Patreon.
Have a tip for CleanTechnica, want to advertise, or want to suggest a guest for our CleanTech Talk podcast? Contact us here.

Written By

is passionate about the new green economy and renewable energy. Sarah's experience includes work with small-scale solar energy installations and utility-scale wind farms. She earned an MBA in sustainable management from the Presidio Graduate School and is a co-founder of Trees Across the Miles, an urban reforestation initiative. When she can escape the internet vortex, she enjoys playing in the forest, paddling down rivers, or twisting into yoga poses.


You May Also Like

Clean Transport

The US East Coast, which normally has around 62 million barrels of diesel stored during the month of May, has reported under 52 million...

Clean Transport

Prosecutors in Europe are investigating alleged diesel cheating by Suzuki and Stellantis.

Clean Transport

In a recent tweet, President Biden announced a measure to help relieve high gas prices. The vast majority of American drivers are still using...


As the clampdown on Russian oil continues, economies that rely on biofuels will soon face a difficult choice.

Copyright © 2021 CleanTechnica. The content produced by this site is for entertainment purposes only. Opinions and comments published on this site may not be sanctioned by and do not necessarily represent the views of CleanTechnica, its owners, sponsors, affiliates, or subsidiaries.