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Rot's unique wood degrading machinery to be harnessed for better biofuels production
Date:2/5/2009

e deconstructed. Traditionally, harsh chemicals and expensive high-heat treatments have been employed. In parallel with the development of improved feedstocks is finding just the right mix of enzymes to get the most out of converting biomass into fuel.

"Nature offers some guidance here," said Dan Cullen, FPL scientist and one of the senior authors on the PNAS paper. "Postia has, over its evolution, shed the conventional enzymatic machinery for attacking plant material. Instead, the evidence suggests that it utilizes an arsenal of small oxidizing agents that blast through plant cell walls to depolymerize the cellulose. This biological process opens a door to more effective, less-energy intensive and more environmentally-sound strategies for more lignocellulose deconstruction."

Few organisms in nature can efficiently breakdown lignin into smaller, more manageable chemical units amenable to biofuels production. The exceptions are the basidiomycete fungi, which include white-rot and brown-rotwood-decayers and essential caretakers of carbon in forest systems. In addition, brown-rot fungi have significant economic impact because their ability to wreak havoc with wooden structures. A significant portion of the U.S. timber harvest is diverted toward replacing such decayed materials.

Unlike white-rot fungi, previously characterized by DOE JGI and FPL, which simultaneously degrades lignin and cellulose, brown-rot rapidly depolymerizes the cellulose in wood without removing the lignin. Up until this study, the underlying genetics and biochemical mechanisms were poorly understood.

DNA sequence is the first step in the central dogma of molecular biology first articulated over 50 years ago by Francis Crickthe transfer of information from DNA to RNA, which in turn, is translated into protein products, such as enzymes. Postia's genome sequence was also the first step in the process that the scientific team employed to home in o
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Contact: David Gilbert
degilbert@lbl.gov
925-296-5643
DOE/Joint Genome Institute
Source:Eurekalert  

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