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Wood is abundant and full of energy, but outside of some insects, almost no animals eat it because the stuff it’s made of is hard to break down.
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To learn more, start your googling with these keywords:
Xylophagy: the eating of wood
Lignin: a class of complex organic polymers that form key structural materials in the support tissues of vascular plants and help make wood rigid.
Cellulose: a polysaccharide consisting of chains of glucose monomers, which is the main constituent of plant cell walls.
Lignin oxidation: a depolymerization method to break bonds in lignin molecules such as ether or carbon–carbon bonds by applying an oxidant such as oxygen.
Depolymerization: the process of breaking down a polymer, such as lignin, into simpler monomers
Trichonympha agilis: a specialized protist that lives in the hindguts of many termite species that breaks down the cellulose in the wood they eat and may contribute to the lignin oxidation process.
If you liked this week’s video, you might also like:
Learn about the fungi that first unlocked the secrets of breaking down lignin: https://www.energy.gov/science/articles/behind-scenes-how-fungi-make-nutrients-available-world
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