When people hear “microbiology of the built environment” they tend to think first of buildings. But the built environment includes so much more, ranging from transportation (cars/planes/space shuttles) to swimming pools to highway bridges.
The National Institute of Science and Technology (NIST) has a test facility where they study biofuels. They recently presented some results that weren’t focused on the question of what microbes are involved in biofuel production, but on the negative effects that ethanol-loving microbes can have on fuel transportation infrastructure.
Turns out that a bacteria called Acetobacter aceti loves ethanol, produces acid, and can seriously damage steel used for storage and transportation of ethanol.