An adhesive resin made from cow gut bacteria and scrap plant material — like wood chips, crop residue or recycled newspapers — may one day replace a portion of the petroleum-based adhesive used in the wood industry to make products like plywood or particle board. The invention was developed when Paul Weimer, USDA Agricultural Research Service microbiologist at the U.S. Dairy Forage Research Center, and several colleagues noted that certain cellulose-digesting bacteria tightly cling to plant material while metabolizing in cow stomachs. 

The researchers determined that their patented adhesive residue — a low-cost co-product of ethanol fuel — can replace up to 45 percent of traditional adhesive in wood products.