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Cricket bacteria break down lignin, highlighting ecology’s utility in applied R&D

Researchers have discovered that Cedecea lapagei, a bacterium found in camel crickets, is capable of breaking down lignin -- the chemical polymers found in plant cells that makes wood tough -- opening new research pathways for the development of biofuels and chemical manufacturing. The research stemmed from a 2014 citizen science study involving camel crickets in which study participants asked researchers what value camel crickets might have. C. lapagei was already known to science, but had not been well studied. The researchers found that it is capable of breaking down lignin. The study highlights the potential inherent in using ecosystem analysis as a tool for targeting research into the identification of commercially valuable microorganisms with industrial applications.

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