A sweet solution to environmental waste

sugarcane QUT

Spent sugarcane is the latest agricultural waste product with renewable potential

When sugarcane is squeezed for its sugar-rich juices, a pulpy by-product called bagasse is left over. If left to rot, it ends up producing large amounts of the greenhouse gas methane, which is 27 times worse for the ozone layer than carbon dioxide.

But bagasse holds great potential as a recycled food source for livestock. The microbial eco-systems contained within the sugarcane mulch are diverse and adaptable depending on their environmental influences. Many new strains of bacteria, yeast and fungi live within the bagasse, and are being investigated by a group from QUT to unlock its food-source potential.

Rebecca Ainscough is one of the student research assistants on the project. Participating in the group was a result of Rebecca’s ‘Vacation Research Experience Scheme’ scholarship from QUT.

“The university has provided so many research opportunities that give you industry-linked, hands-on experience. Practical work is the most important thing you can do to improve confidence in your theoretical work,” says Rebecca.

At first, Rebecca couldn’t decide on a degree that best suited her. Now, she’s completing a Bachelor of Biology, minoring in chemistry, which allows her to combine her two scientific passions. “It’s so easy to personalise your degree,” she says.

“QUT has brought to life my love of biochemistry.”

Rebecca’s pathway to research at QUT:

> > Bachelor of Science (Biology), QUT

> > Research assistant, QUT

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Gone bananas
Eliza Brockwell

Author: Eliza Brockwell

Eliza is the Digital Producer for Careers with STEM. Eliza is passionate about creating content that encourages diversity of representation in STEM.

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