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Forest Products Laboratory
One Gifford Pinchot Drive
Madison, WI 53726-2398
Phone: (608) 231-9200
Fax: (608) 231-9592


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Fungi Use Multiple Strategies for Deconstruction of Woody Biomass

Postia, a genus of brown rot fungi. Dan Cullen, U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service.
Postia, a genus of brown rot fungi. Dan Cullen, U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service.
Snapshot: A diverse array of enzymes catalyze the bioconversion of wood toward biofuels and other high-value products.

In collaboration with the universities of British Columbia-Vancouver, Minnesota-St. Paul, and Wisconsin Madison, Forest Service researchers at the agency's Forest Products Laboratory in Madison, Wisc., quantified gene expression by three fungal species during colonization of poplar and lodgepole pine. Many of the highly expressed genes were observed on both woody substrates, irrespective of the fungus tested. Often, these genes encoded hydrolases involved in the breakdown of hemicellulose, a major cell wall component. Conversely, enzymes associated with lignin and cellulose degradation were secreted by a single species, a so-called "white-rot" fungus. The two nonlignin-degrading species produced none or very few of these enzymes, thereby confirming a fundamentally different strategy used by these "brown-rot" fungi. In short, the evidence supports the importance of extracellular oxidants and conventional hydrolases in the deconstruction of woody cell walls by brown-rot and white-rot, respectively. Beyond variation in the enzyme profiles of different fungal species, the substrates substantially impact expression patterns. For example, poplar genotypes with distinct cell wall chemistries influenced the expression of lignocellulose-degrading machinery of the fungi. Many of these enzymes have unknown catalytic function but have significant potential for improving the enzymatic cocktails used in biochemical-based bioenergy platforms.
Princpal Investigator(s):
 Cullen, Daniel

Fiscal Year: 2016
Highlight ID: 665
Related Research Emphasis Areas: