Who needs government-funded research on a cow’s stomach? We all do. - The Washington Post
Connotea Imports 2012-07-31
"JGI director and geneticist Eddy Rubin is a pioneer in the field of “metagenomics,” the study of how the DNA in many creatures can work together to create ecosystems. Right now, he and his team are studying microbes that live in a cow’s rumen, the stomach-like organ that the animals use to break down grasses into fuel. All their results are published publicly online, for scientists and entrepreneurs to mine for ideas and to prevent unnecessary duplication of research....Despite the hard research ahead, the rewards for discoveries could be tremendous. “Let’s say you’ve got a goal that in 20 years, you want to have a much higher usage of biofuels,” Rokhsar said. He did some quick math: “We spend over $1 billion a day on foreign oil. So let’s say that sequencing these genomes now allows some graduate student to clone a gene five years from now because they can look it up in our database. That’s going to accelerate the research. Say that allows us to start using biofuels a month before our 20-year goal. You’ve saved $30 billion from that month alone.” The hope for that kind of dramatic breakthrough fuels the project...."