2014 was a banner year for making automotive fuel from nonfood crops, with a series of major new production plants opening in the United States. However, producing this so-called cellulosic ethanol remains considerably more expensive than gasoline. So researchers are always on the lookout for new ways to trim costs. Now they have a new lead, a microbe that can use abundant nitrogen gas as the fertilizer it needs to produce ethanol from plants. The discovery is "a major commercial accomplishment for biofuel production," says Steven Ricke, a microbiologist and editor of a textbook on biofuel production at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, who was not involved in the study.