Research Highlights

Publication Year: 2017
Crystallographic comparison of the GlcA-independent CaXyn30A aglycone region with the ligand bound GlcA-dependent CtXyn30A structure.
Highlight ID: 1296
Enzymatic conversion of xylan into valuable products.

Xylan represents a vast store of potential value but rather than seeing beneficial use, much of this reservoir is lost in catastrophic wildfires that result in significant property loss and tragic los ...
White rot fungus, Panerochaete chrysosporium colonizing wood chips.
Highlight ID: 1295
Genetic basis of lignocellulose degradation

Exploiting the recent availability of fungal genomes, Forest Service researchers have developed computational approaches for the identification of key wood decay enzymes. ...
Publication Year: 2016
Comparative expression levels of Paenibacillus sp JDR-2 polysaccharide utilization genes when grown on select plant-derived substrates. U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service.
Highlight ID: 663
Characterization of Microbial Biocatalysts in Lignocellulosic Utilization

Bioconversion of lignocellulosic biomass would benefit from development of second generation bacterial biocatalysts. The bacterium Paenibacillus sp. strain JDR2, originally isolated from decaying swee ...
Proposed Van der waals interactions between a xylooligosaccharide and an appendage depended xylan degrading enzyme. U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service.
Highlight ID: 662
Development of Enzymes for use in Lignocellulose Processing

The ultimate best use of lignocellulose allows for the selective extraction of defined value streams. To facilitate this, Forest Service research strives to develop new enzymes with unique capabilitie ...
Postia, a genus of brown rot fungi. Dan Cullen, U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service.
Highlight ID: 665
Fungi Use Multiple Strategies for Deconstruction of Woody Biomass

A diverse array of enzymes catalyze the bioconversion of wood toward biofuels and other high-value products. ...
Researchers are developing improved methods for processing cellulose nanofibrils. Rob Sabo, U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service.
Highlight ID: 653
Improving the Hydrolysis and Fibrillation of Wood Into Cellulose Nanomaterials

Cellulose nanomaterials have been receiving an increasing amount of interest from both the scientific and industrial communities because of their interesting properties, including good strength, absor ...
Publication Year: 2015
The dots are microscopic beads and the lines are fungal hyphae. The beads turn from red to green when exposed to oxidation. Notice that the bead next to the fungus is more green than the others. USDA Forest Service.
Highlight ID: 618
How Does Wood Decay Start?

How do fungi rot wood? Using new tools, fluorescent dye attached to tiny beads, and laser confocal microscopy, Forest Service scientists were able to follow oxidation on a microscopic level. The infor ...
Two-dimensional rendering of three-dimensional chemistry of poplar wood with representative spectra of lignin, hemicellulose and cellulose. Barbara Illman and USDA Forst Service
Highlight ID: 620
Imaging Wood Chemicals in Three Dimensions

For the first time, chemicals in wood were visualized in 3-dimensions. This advance in chemical analysis will help clarify scientists' understanding of wood architecture, strength properties, durabili ...
The structure model of the new glycoside hydrolase family 30-8 (GH30-8) xylanase (green) overlaid with the previously determined protein structure of a canonical GH30-8 xylanase (blue) indicating that although the new xylanase is functionally unique, it does not structurally differ from the canonical GH30-8 xylanases (top). An alignment showing the specific region of primary amino acid sequence containing the altered sequence (red boxes) attributed to the observed difference in mode of action of this new enzyme against its xylan substrate. USDA Forest Service
Highlight ID: 613
Protein Structure and Biochemical Characterization of a Novel Functioning Xylanase

Scientists identified and characterized a xylanase with unique function that may have applications in processing of woody biomass substrate. ...
Publication Year: 2013
Three dimensional model of the Button Mushroom enzyme that metabolizes degraded leaf litter. Daniel Cullen, USDA Forest Service
Highlight ID: 445
Common Button Mushroom Studied for Key Role in Recycling Carbon

Recent genome studies of Agaricus reveal specialized adaptations to litter- and soil-rich environments which may be used to remediate contaminated soils. ...
FPL researchers developed a new method for producing a suitable component of bioplastics from glucose, which can be derived from wood and other forms of biomass. Thinkstock
Highlight ID: 437
Enzyme Combo Results in Bioplastics Composite

Developing bioplastics as a means of moving away from non-renewable, petroleum-based products has many economic and environmental benefits. Researchers at the Forest Products Laboratory recently devel ...
Fruit bodies of sequenced wood decay fungi Bjerkandera adusta (right image) and Ganoderma species (left image). Robert Blanchette, University of Minnesota
Highlight ID: 446
Research Demystifies Wood Decaying Fungi

Newly sequenced fungal genomes provide insight into the enzymatic conversion of wood into high value products. ...
Image 1: A picture of PbXynA1 (an xylanases enzyme) with the a xylooligosaccharide (sugar polymer) bound into the active site. Image 2: A close up revealing a large pocket not previously observed in other xylanases (enzymes) of this family. Franz St John, USDA Forest Service
Highlight ID: 452
Researchers Determine the Structure of Bacterial Protein Involved in Biomass Conversion

Researchers structurally characterized a bacterial protein involved in biomass degradation. The knowledge obtained from this novel protein suggest that it may function better than comparable enzymes i ...
Publication Year: 2012
Wood decay fungus Ceriporiopsis subvermispora colonizing wood vessels. Robert Blanchette, University of Minnesota
Highlight ID: 9
Hidden Lives of Wood Decay Fungi Uncovered by Genome Sequencing

The decoded genomes of 12 species reveal a complex repertoire of proteins involved in the deconstruction of key polymers within wood cell walls ...
A highly unusual yeast, Spathaspora passalidarum, is benefitting biofuels production. Tom Kuster, Forest Service
Highlight ID: 11
Novel Yeast Makes Bioconversion Faster and Less Expensive

Faster, cheaper biofuel production is possible for commercial use ...
Publication Year: 2010

Highlight ID: 178
Fast Forward' Genetics for Renewable Fuels

Researchers at the Forest Products Laboratory used mutagenesis, strain selection and genetic manipulation over a period of seven years to develop improved strains of yeasts that will produce renewable ...
The edible black poplar mushroom, Agrocybe aegerita. Forest Service
Highlight ID: 176
Water, Air, and Soil

Forest fungi perform an essential role in recycling woody plant debris and have many potential applications in biotechnology. In 2009, a Forest Products Laboratory chemist worked for ten months as a S ...

Team Members

NameJob TitlePhone

Crooks, M.E. Casey
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Research Microbiologist608-231-9251

Cullen, Daniel
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Research Microbiologist608-231-9468

Dietrich, Diane
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soil scientist608-231-9490

Gaskell, Jill
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Chemist (Volunteer)608-231-9463

Griffin, Janet L.
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Program Support Assistant608-231-9466

Hammel, Kenneth E.
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Research Chemist608-231-9528

Kersten, Philip J.
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Research Microbiologist608-231-9470

Mozuch, Michael
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St. John, Franz
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Research Microbiologist608-231-9438

Products (Publications & Patents)

Below are the 50 most recent products author or co-authored by researchers of this unit that have been posted, sorted by publication year and title. To access the complete repository of FPL products, click here.
Publication YearTitleDate Posted
2019Xylanase pretreatment of wood fibers for producing cellulose nanofibrils: a comparison of different enzyme preparations


2018A plasmid borne, functionally novel glycoside hydrolase family 30 subfamily 8 endoxylanase from solventogenic Clostridium


2018Draft genome sequence of Burkholderia cepacia ATCC 17759, a polyhydroxybutyrate-co-valerate copolymer-producing bacterium


2018Fungal lignin peroxidase does not produce the veratryl alcohol cation radical as a diffusible ligninolytic oxidant


2018Multi-omic analyses of extensively decayed Pinus contorta reveal expression of a diverse array of lignocellulose-degrading enzymes


2018Substrate-specific differential gene expression and RNA editing in the brown rot fungus Fomitopsis pinicola


2017An optical method for carbon dioxide isotopes and mole fractions in small gas samples: tracing microbial respiration from soil, litter, and lignin.


2017Draft genome sequence of a monokaryotic model brown-rot fungus Postia (Rhodonia) placenta SB12


2017Exploring the hypothesis that limiting diffusion of fungal oxidants underlies decay resistance in acetylated wood


2017GH115 α-glucuronidase and GH11 xylanase from Paenibacillus sp. JDR-2: potential roles in processing glucuronoxylans


2017GH30 glucuronoxylan-specific xylanase from Streptomyces turgidiscabies C56


2017Xylanase 30 A from Clostridium thermocellum functions as a glucuronoxylan xylanohydrolase


2016A 1,3-1,4-β-glucan utilization regulon in Paenibacillus sp. strain JDR-2


2016Acridine Orange Indicates Early Oxidation of Wood Cell Walls by Fungi


2016Construction of a genetic linkage map and analysis of quantitative trait loci associated with the agronomically important traits of Pleurotus eryngii


2016Draft genome sequence of the white-rot fungus Obba rivulosa 3A-2


2016Endoglucanase post-milling treatment for producing cellulose nanofibers from bleached eucalyptus fibers by a supermasscolloider


2016Gene expression patterns of wood decay fungi Postia placenta and Phanerochaete chrysosporium are influenced by wood substrate composition during degradation


2016Genetic bases of fungal white rot wood decay predicted by phylogenomic analysis of correlated gene-phenotype evolution


2016Genomic and transcriptomic analysis of carbohydrate utilization by Paenibacillus sp. JDR-2: systems for bioprocessing plant polysaccharides


2016Heterologous production and characterization of two glyoxal oxidases from Pycnoporus cinnabarinus


2016Iron addition to soil specifically stabilized lignin


2016Localizing gene regulation reveals a staggered wood decay mechanism for the brown rot fungus Postia placenta


2016Prospects for bioprocess development based on recent genome advances in lignocellulose degrading basidiomycetes


2016Transcriptome and secretome analyses of the wood decay fungus Wolfiporia cocos support alternative mechanisms of lignocellulose conversion


2015Basidiomycete DyPs: Genomic diversity, structural-functional aspects, reaction mechanism and environmental significance


2015Chemistry of wood in 3D: new infrared imaging


2015Contrasting Patterns of Diterpene Acid Induction by Red Pine and White Spruce to Simulated Bark Beetle Attack, and Interspecific Differences in Sensitivity Among Fungal Associates


2015Lignin decomposition is sustained under fluctuating redox conditions in humid tropical forest soils


2015Physical and Mechanical Properties of Cellulose Nanofibril Films from Bleached Eucalyptus Pulp by Endoglucanase Treatment and Microfluidization


2015Production of cellulose nanofibrils from bleached eucalyptus fibers by hyperthermostable endoglucanase treatment and subsequent microfluidization


2015Prospects and challenges for fungal metatranscriptomics of complex communities


2015Regulation of Gene Expression during the Onset of Ligninolytic Oxidation by Phanerochaete chrysosporium on Spruce Wood


20142D-NMR Demonstration of Lignin Removal from Wood and Non-wood plant Feedstocks by Fungal Versatile Peroxidase


20143D FT-IR imaging spectroscopy of phase-separation in a poly(3-hydroxybutyrate)/poly(L-lactic acid) blend


2014A Highly Diastereoselective Oxidant Contributes to Ligninolysis by the White Rot Basidiomycete Ceriporiopsis subvermispora


2014A novel member of glycoside hydrolase family 30 subfamily 8 with altered substrate specificity


2014Analysis of the Phlebiopsis gigantea Genome, Transcriptome and Secretome Provides Insight into Its Pioneer Colonization Strategies of Wood


2014Chapter 3: Wood Decay


2014Copper radical oxidases and related extracellular oxidoreductases of wood-decay Agaricomycetes


2014Engineering the Xylan Utilization System in Bacillus subtilis for Production of Acidic Xylooligosaccharides


2014Ethanol production from non-detoxified whole slurry of sulfite-pretreated empty fruit bunches at a low cellulase loading


2014Extensive sampling of basidiomycete genomes demonstrates inadequacy of the white-rot/brown-rot paradigm for wood decay fungi


2014Influence of Populus Genotype on Gene Expression by the Wood Decay Fungus Phanerochaete chrysosporium


2014Ligninolytic peroxidase genes in the oyster mushroom genome: heterologous expression, molecular structure, catalytic and stability properties, and lignin-degrading ability


2014Temporal Alterations in the Secretome of the Selective Ligninolytic Fungus Ceriporipsis subvermispora during growth on Aspen Wood Reveal this Organism's Strategy for Degrading Lighnocellulose


2014Transcriptomic Analysis of Xylan Utilization Systems in Paenibacillus sp


2014What Basidiomycete Genomes Teach us about Wood Biodegradation Mechanisms


20133D spectral imaging with synchrotron Fourier transform infrared spectro-microtomography


2013A comparative genomic analysis of the oxidative enzymes potentially involved in lignin degradation by Agaricus bisporus


2013Chapter 13: Recent Advances on the Genomics of Litter- and Soil-Inhabiting Agaricomycetes


2013Chapter 5: Organopollutant Degradation by Wood Decay Basidiomycetes


2013Chapter 6: Prehydrolysis Pulping with Fermentation Coproducts


2013Chemically imaging the effects of the addition of nanofibrillated cellulose on the distribution of poly(acrylic acid) in poly(vinyl alcohol)


2013Differential sensitivity of polyhydroxyalkanoate producing bacteria to fermentation inhibitors and comparison of polyhydroxybutyrate production from Burkholderia cepacia and Pseudomonas pseudoflava


2013Evidence from Serpula lacrymans that 2,5-Dimethoxyhydroquinone Is a Lignocellulolytic Agent of Divergent Brown Rot Basidiomycetes


2013Formation of a tyrosine adduct involved in lignin degradation by Trametopsis cervina lignin peroxidase: a novel peroxidase activation mechanism


2013Genomewide analysis of polysaccharides degrading enzymes in 11 white- and brown-rot Polyporales provides insight into mechanisms of wood decay


2013Integration of Chemical and Biological Catalysis: Production of Furylglycolic Acid from Glucose via Cortalcerone


2013Nondestructive chemical imaging of wood at the micro-scale: advanced technology to complement macro-scale evaluations


2013Phenotypic selection of a wild Saccharomyces cerevisiae strain for simultaneous saccharification and co-fermentation of AFEX pretreated corn stover


2013Spatial mapping of extracellular oxidant production by a white rot basidiomycete on wood reveals details of ligninolytic mechanism


2013Xylanase supplementation on enzymatic saccharification of dilute acid pretreated poplars at different severities


2012Bioconversion of giant reed (Arundo donax L.) hemicellulose hydrolysate to ethanol by Scheffersomyces stipitis CBS6054


2012Characterisation of the gene cluster for L-rhamnose catabolism in the yeast Scheffersomyces (Pichia) stipitis


2012Cofermentation of Glucose, Xylose, and Cellobiose by the Beetle-Associated Yeast Spathaspora passalidarum


2012Comparative genomics of Ceriporiopsis subvermispora and Phanerochaete chrysosporium provide insight into selective ligninolysis


2012Complete genome sequence of Paenibacillus sp. strain JDR-2


2012Diffraction-limited IR Microspectroscopy with IRENI


2012Evolutionary engineering of Saccharomyces cerevisiae for efficient aerobic xylose consumption


2012Genome sequence of the button mushroom Agaricus bisporus reveals mechanisms governing adaptation to a humic-rich ecological niche


2012Insight into tradeoff between wood decay and parasitism from the genome of a fungal forest pathogen


2012Lignin-degrading Peroxidases from Genome of Selective Ligninolytic Fungus Ceriporiopsis subverispora


2012Novel structural features of xylanase A1 from Paenibacillus sp. JDR-2


2012Response surface methodology (RSM) to evaluate moisture effects on corn stover in recovering xylose by DEO hydrolysis


2012The Paleozoic Origin of Enzymatic Lignin Decomposition Reconstructed from 31 Fungal Genomes


2011Comparative evaluation of manganese peroxidase- and Mn(III)-initiated peroxidation of C18 unsaturated fatty acids by different methods


2011Comparative genomics of xylose-fermenting fungi for enhanced biofuel production


2011Dilute Acid Pretreatment of Corncob for Efficient Sugar Production


2011Dilute oxalic acid pretreatment for biorefining giant reed (Arundo donax L.)


2011Efficiencies of acid catalysts in the hydrolysis of lignocellulosic biomass over a range of combined severity factors


2011Evaluation of Ethanol Production from Corncob Using Scheffersomyces (Pichia) stipitis CBS 6054 by Volumetric Scale-up


2011Exploring new strategies for cellulosic biofuels production


2011Fueling the future with fungal genomics


2011Interactions of fungi from fermented sausage with regenerated cellulose casings


2011Ligand bound structures of a glycosyl hydrolase family 30 glucuronoxylan xylanohydrolase


2011Multidimensional NMR analysis reveals truncated lignin structures in wood decayed by the brown rot basidiomycete Postia placenta


2011Multidimensional NMR analysis reveals truncated lignin structures in wood decayed by the brown rot basidiomycete Postia placenta


2011Oxidative cleavage of non-phenolic β-0-4 lignin model dimers by an extracellular aromatic peroxygenase


2011Preparation of human drug metabolites using fungal peroxygenases


2011Proteomic and functional analysis of the Cellulase system Expressed by Postia placenta during Brown Rot of Solid Wood


2011Pseudomonas sax Genes Overcome Aliphatic Isothiocyanate - Mediated Non-Host Resistance in Arabidopsis


2011Scale-up study of oxalic acid pretreatment of agricultural lignocellulosic biomass for the production of bioethanol


2011Sequencing the fungal tree of life


2011Significant Alteration of Gene Expression in Wood Decay Fungi postia placenta and Phanerochaete chrysosporium by Plant Species


2011The Plant Cell Wall-Decomposing Machinery Underlies the Functional Diversity of Forest Fungi


2011Understanding LiP Promoters from Phanerochaete chrysosporium: A Bioinformatic Analysis


2011Xylitol production from DEO hydrolysate of corn stover by Pichia stipitis YS-30


2010Comparative Transcriptome and Secretome Analysis of Wood Decay Fungi Postia placenta and Phanerochaete chrysosporium


2010Consolidation of glycosyl hydrolase family 30: A dual domain 4/7 hydrolase family consisting of two structurally distinct groups


Research Projects

Below are 12 research projects associated with this research unit.
Project NumberTitleProject Dates

07-31-2002 - 07-30-2007

FPL-4712-4ABioconversion of thinnings

07-23-2007 - 07-22-2012

FPL-4712-1ABioconversion of wood sugars to fuels and other chemicals

07-23-2007 - 07-22-2012

FPL-4712-1BBioconversion of wood sugars to fuels and other chemicals

10-01-2012 - 09-30-2019

FPL-4712-3AEnzymatic and microbial processing of wood and wood fiber to fuels and other chemicals

07-23-2007 - 07-22-2012

FPL-4712-3BEnzymatic and microbial processing of wood and wood fiber to fuels, nanocellulose and other chemicals

10-01-2012 - 09-30-2019

FPL-4712-3-TEnzymatic processing of wood fiber

07-31-2002 - 07-30-2007

FPL-4712-4-TOptimize lignocelluose-degrading fungi for bioprocessing and bioconversion of wood

07-31-2002 - 07-30-2007

FPL-4712-4BOptimizing lignocellulose-degrading fungi for bioprocessing and bioconversion of wood requires understanding the functional genomics of fung

10-01-2012 - 09-30-2019

FPL-4712-2-TOxidative systems of wood decay fungi

07-31-2002 - 07-30-2007

FPL-4712-2AOxidative systems of wood decay fungi

07-23-2007 - 07-22-2012

FPL-4712-2BOxidative systems of wood decay fungi

10-01-2012 - 09-30-2019


fplMaking Ethanol from Biomass to Meet Energy Demands

Forest Products Laboratory (FPL) researchers have had proven and continuing success working with commercial partners to improve methods of converting biomass to alternative fuels such as ethanol. One important goal of these collaborations is to promote biomass as a way to meet increasing worldwide energy demands.

Xethanol Corporation, an ethanol producer with facilities in Iowa, acquired licensing rights to a patented process developed by FPL and the University of Wisconsin and signed a cooperative research and development agreement to solidify the partnership. The patented process aids in the conversion of xylose, a sugar found in waste biomass and corn fiber, to ethanol and xylitol, a sweetener used in food processing.

The conversion takes place through a fermentation process in which specialized yeast strains break down the xylose. The process reduces the time and labor involved in the critical task of isolating and screening yeast strains for effective fermentation agents and can be used for conversion of both agricultural waste and woody biomass.

Collaborative research in this area is continuing with a new partnership recently formed between FPL and EdeniQ, a company that focuses on turning abundant, non-food biomass into fuels. Researchers are developing yeasts used to ferment xylose and glucose from biomass for commercial ethanol production.

Lab Notes - FPL's online news feed

Below are the 2 most recent Lab Notes blog postings pertaining to this research unit.

TitleDate Posted
Pine log extensively colonized by Phlebiopsis gigantea showing fruiting structures from which spores are released. Photo: Robert Blanchette and Benjamin Held, University of Minnesota.Genetics Provide Valuable Insight into Mysterious Decay Fungi

Valuable insights to developing effective biological control agents for protecting conifer trees from root rot have been discovered...
Pulp NonFiction: Fungal Analysis Reveals Clues for Targeted Biomass Deconstruction

Without fungi and microbes to break down dead trees and leaf litter in nature, the forest floor might look like a scene from TV's "Hoarders." Dan Cullen, research microbiologist at the FPL, is part of an international team of scientists studying the ...