Termite Gut Microbe Study: Cheap Cellulosic Ethanol Soon?

Wouldn't it be great if we had a super-cheap way to make ethanol out of cellulosic materials such as switchgrass and wood chips? The problem is that you need to turn the cellulose into simple sugars before you can ferment it into ethanol... but termites have managed the trick for gadzillions of years, so why not figure out exactly what magic takes place in their guts and replicate it on an industrial scale? Some white coats at Caltech have taken a big step in that process, performing a vast genomic study of the microbes in Nasutitermes termites' guts and identifying more than a thousand potentially useful enzymes. Hooray, soon we'll all be running 16:1 compression alky-burners! [MIT]