Microbiological researchers from universities in the U.S. and Mexico have recently shown improved evidence of successfully generating electricity and producing sustainable fuels with bacteria. We've mentioned the use of algae as a tool for producing biodiesel before, as well as some of the other advancements mentioned in this recent press release. At a meeting of the American Society for Microbiology, researchers from U. Mass. Amherst presented "data identifying for the first time how these bacteria are able to transfer electrons through the biofilms to the electrodes."
This also presents interesting possibilities for genetic engineering, as it may be possible to develop and refine bacteria capable of breaking down biomass into ethanol, or loosening trapped oil reserves from rock surfaces and inaccessible cavities by producing a detergent-like substance. Beyond simply creating the bacteria, researchers will have to demonstrate the economic viability of this kind of approach to boosting oil availability.