Methods of discovery and techniques to study endophytic fungi producing fuel-related hydrocarbons
One promising area in the search for renewable bio-fuels is the discovery of microorganisms that produce fuel-related hydrocarbons (mycodiesel) that is in stark contrast to yeast fermentation that utilizes expensive sugars or starch to produce ethanol, which is a proven and useful source of fuel, but by no means is it ideal. Recently, a number of endophytic fungi have been isolated and described that make compounds such as mono- terpenoids, alkanes, cyclohexanes, cyclopentanes, and alkyl alcohols/ketones, benzenes and polyaromatic hydrocarbons. Many of these compounds are either identical to or are closely related to those specific classes of molecules that are found in diesel. Most importantly, these organisms make hydrocarbons while utilizing cellulosic polymers found in all plant-based agricultural wastes. Also discussed are some novel methods and techniques to quantitatively and qualitatively study hydrocarbon production by these microbes. Two models are discussed for identifying potential fuel-related compounds, scaling up production of them and advanced engine testing. Finally, it seems possible that endophytic fungi may have an additional attribute of having contributed to the formation of crude oil in the first place and a description of the paleobiosphere, to test this hypothesis, is in this review.
Strobel, G.A. (2014) Methods of discovery and techniques to study endophytic fungi producing fuel –related hydrocarbons. Natural Product Reports 39: 259-272.