Finding promise in white rot

Fungus sequence shows potential for biotechnological and environmental applications

Cathy Holding(cathyholding@aol.com)
May 4, 2004

The complete genome sequence of a white rot fungus, reported in the May 2 Nature Biotechnology, reveals an impressive array of enzymes with potential for biotechnological exploitation, according to Diego Martinez and colleagues at the United States Department of Energy (DoE) Joint Genome Institute.

Martinez's team sequenced the 30-MB genome of Phanerochaete chrysosporium strain RP78 by a whole-genome shotgun approach. The genome contains 11,777 protein-coding genes, including secreted oxidases, peroxidases, and hydrolytic enzymes that cooperate in wood decay.

The white rot fungi are the only microbes known to efficiently degrade all the components of wood, including lignin, the most significant aromatic polymer on Earth, according to Dan Cullen, research scientist with the US Department of Agriculture Forest Products Lab and coauthor of the paper. “They're found everywhere, in dead and down trees. Only a handful of organisms are able to degrade lignin, its very recalcitrant to decay, and these...

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