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Wooden-boat menace proves its value

New research out of the University of York in England is unraveling some mysteries of the common wood-eating gribble that could provide the key to cheaply turning abundant wood and straw fiber into biofuel.

For centuries the gribble has been known to the seafaring world mainly for eating holes in their ships, docks and piers - causing untold amounts of damage. But the bug's uncanny knack for digesting raw wood holds the promise of enzymes that can, by themselves, turn wood and straw fibers into sugars, which can then be easily turned into ethanol through simple fermentation.

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