Researchers have found enzymes in the gut of capybara - the world's largest living rodent- that could be used for the conversion of agro-industrial waste into biofuels and biochemicals.
Two research groups, in São Paulo, at the Brazilian Biorenewables National Laboratory (LNBR) and the Brazilian Center for Research in Energy and Materials (CNPEM), discovered two new families of enzymes in the animal, that have great biotechnological potential.
These enzymes are naturally found in the cabybara's digestive tract and help them to digest plant waste and convert sugar into energy.
Now, scientists have analysed these enzymes at an atomic level and understand how to synthesise them in the lab.
“We noted that the capybara is a highly adapted herbivore capable of obtaining energy from recalcitrant plant waste and that it hasn't been studied very much," said Mário Tyago Murakami, LNBR's Scientific Director.