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Breaking down cellulose without blasting lignin
Date:7/14/2011

l we're getting to the point where we can do comparisons across the three fungal lifestyles: saprotrophs, which include wood-degraders, symbionts and pathogens, and we are entering the stage where we find that there are no clear, black and white associations with each category."

Co-senior author Francis Martin from the French National Institute of Agriculture Research (INRA) who has been an integral driver in many of the DOE JGI's fungal genome projects, stressed the importance of this work in understanding the evolution of forest fungi. "Serpula is the 'missing link' along the 'saprotrophism-mutualism continuum,'" Martin said. "Both the brown rot Serpula and symbiont Laccaria bicoloralso sequenced by the DOE JGIlack the most aggressive wood-degrading enzymes used by white rot fungi in breaking down the unusable lignin matrix of wood to unmask useable cellulose embedded within it. Loss of this aggressive lignin breakdown mechanism might have permitted brown rot's transition to mycorrhizal mutualiststhat foster a beneficial association between the fungus and the plant rootsenabling preferential access to carbohydrates within the tree." This study, Martin concluded, "adds to our incremental understanding of the rise of these processes, particularly as they relate to tree health and productivity, which play pivotal roles in terrestrial carbon cycling, sequestration, and other biogeochemical cycles, as well as for informing new strategies for biomass deconstruction for improved biofuels."


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Contact: David Gilbert
degilbert@lbl.gov
925-296-5643
DOE/Joint Genome Institute
Source:Eurekalert

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