Panda poop contains bacteria with potent effects in breaking down lignocelluloses in switch grass, corn stalks, and wood chips, reported Ashli Brown, Mississippi State University, USA, at the 242nd ACS meeting.
Scientists have long known that giant pandas, termites, and cattle have bacteria in their digestive systems to break down the cellulose in plants into nutrients. The bacteria species in the panda intestine may be more efficient than termite bacteria. Brown estimated that under certain conditions they can convert about 95 % of plant biomass into simple sugars. The bacteria contain enzymes which eliminate the need for high heat, harsh acids, and high pressures currently used in biofuel production processes. Those processes are also time- and energy-intensive, as well as expensive.
Panda bacteria could therefore provide a faster, cleaner and less costly way to make biofuels in a way that doesn’t rely on precious food crops such as corn, soybeans and sugar.