ACETOGENS are among the oldest living organisms – and they play a major role in the global carbon cycle, accounting for around 20 percent of the planet’s fixed carbon. A more detailed understanding of these little blighters is a step towards fighting climate change, and New Zealand gas fermentation company LanzaTech is on the case – starting with rabbit poo. LanzaTech’s acetogen was discovered in rabbit droppings, and from there it was isolated and brought to the lab. Today the LanzaTech acetogens ferment industrial waste gases from process industries such as the steel and refining sectors. With a new computer model, the company can actually design useful microbes. LanzaTech’s breakthrough has been hailed by academics as having “the potential to transform the way we produce chemicals and fuels”. The BV judges have precious little knowledge of microbes, but they know a go-ahead firm when they see one – and understand the relevance of this research in the fight to stop climate change. The judges were unanimous in presenting LanzaTech with the 2019 award for Most Innovative Biotech Team (Global).