Erin M. Dort

Document Type

Honors Project

First Advisor

Dr. Stephen Baron

Degree Award Date

Fall 2014


Cellulose Degrading Microbes, Total Lipid Production, Biofuel


Biology | Bioresource and Agricultural Engineering


Bio fuel has become a highly researched area of biology, especially for the United States with its increasing dependency on foreign oil. Most studies look simply at the cost per gallon and not the unseen costs that go into making the fuel [ 6]. Most research into biofuel technology involves the field of plants. For example, it has been suggested to create biofuel from com [10]. There are problems with this idea as well. Using com, or maize, can have hidden carbon costs, such as the fuel used to harvest the material and move the plant to the processing plant, and the energy to actually convert raw material from the plant to biodiesel. All of these reasons would make com usage not as efficient as previously expected [8]. The com will not, in the end, decrease carbon emissions as much as planned, tagging this biofuel production line as an inefficient mechanism. Because of all this information, a different biofuel production idea needs to be formulated and to be researched.

Specifically, cellulosic biofuel production is on the rise due to the lowered production cost [2]. Cellulosic biomass can be defined as fibrous plant material that can be converted to biofuel. Com stalk material is an example of cellulosic biomass; however, it is not the best source to use and other possibilities include wood chips, grass, and stalks of other plants [3]. The removal of com growth can cause harm to the soil in the future due to a loss of the carbon and other nutrients that detritus would offer. This decrease in soil quality may outweigh the benefits of creating biodiesel. Many waste products can be used as cellulosic biomass, like grass clippings, that are not currently being utilized. Perhaps, a bacterium could be found to properly synthesize high lipid content by degrading cellulose. Bacteria that have high lipid content for use in biodiesel production might be able to create more biofuel and could potentially be more useful than plant materials. This project aims at doing precisely that; finding aerobic cellulos􀁇 degrading bacteria and determining their lipid content to evaluate their potential for biofuel production. Materials and