Banner for LabNotes
From Lab Notes
Contact Information
Forest Products Laboratory
One Gifford Pinchot Drive
Madison, WI 53726-2398
Phone: (608) 231-9200
Fax: (608) 231-9592


View all Research Highlights

Genetic basis of lignocellulose degradation

White rot fungus, Panerochaete chrysosporium colonizing wood chips.
White rot fungus, Panerochaete chrysosporium colonizing wood chips.
Snapshot: Exploiting the recent availability of fungal genomes, Forest Service researchers have developed computational approaches for the identification of key wood decay enzymes.

Certain wood decay fungi have evolved the capacity to efficiently degrade all the major components of cell walls, including cellulose and the recalcitrant polymer, lignin. Collectively referred to as "white rot" fungi, these microbes play a key role in forest carbon cycles. The unique enzymes have attracted considerable attention for their industrial potential in the bioconversion of woody biomass to useful chemicals. Nevertheless, considerable uncertainty remains regarding the identification, roles and interactions among the extracellular proteins produced by these filamentous fungi. Addressing this issue, Forest Service scientists and their collaborators compared the genomes of 62 fungi and identified 409 gene families that correlated with white rot decay. Some of these families were previously associated with the degradation of cellulose and lignin, while others were related to detoxification and transport processes, and still others had yet unknown function. Corroborated by patterns of gene regulation, these results provide a framework for selecting more efficient enzymes of value in bioprocess development.
Princpal Investigator(s):
 Cullen, Daniel

Research Location:
  • Clark University
  • FPL
  • Universite Henri Poincare, Interactions Abres/Microorganismes
  • University of Wisconsin, Madison

Forest Service Partners:
  • Philip Bergmann and David S. Hibbett, Clark University, Worcester
  • Robert Riley and Igor V. Grigoriev, DOE-Joint Genome Institute, Walnut Creek, CA

External Partners:
  • Institute of Biochemistry, BRC-HAS, Szeged, Hungary

Fiscal Year: 2017
Highlight ID: 1295
Related Research Emphasis Areas: