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Wood's 'noble rot' fungus genetically decoded
Date:7/19/2010

on on the lignolytic that is, wood decomposing enzymes. This knowledge will allow us to genetically modify the wild strain in order to optimize and control very specific decomposition processes." The S. commune genome ought to be a rich source of information, since according to genetic analysis the split gill mushroom possesses the most comprehensive enzyme-based digestive apparatus of all standing fungi (Basidiomycota). The enzymes are used to digest polysaccharides (carbohydrates and long-chain sugars) and to decompose lignin in wood, an ability which is unique, as far as is currently known. According to Schwarze this wide range of enzymatic activity explains why S. commune is so widespread; the fungus can nourish itself on practically anything!

This relatively new field, which Schwarze calls Fungal Biotechnology, provides a means of improving the process of impregnating spruce and pine wood neither of which are particularly long-lasting or hard-wearing with protective and finishing agents. Schwarze is convinced that "this represents an enormous commercial potential, above all in Switzerland, where more than 60% of the forests are spruce and pine." Another possible application is improving the efficiency of methods for the production of biogenic fuels based on woody biomass.

In addition, the genetic sequence is expected to supply important information on the development of the fruiting body of the fungus and how this process can be optimized, for example in the cultivation of edible mushrooms. Considering that some 2.5 million tonnes of edible fungi are produced every year, this could well prove to be very profitable know-how.


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Contact: Dr. Francis W.M.R. Schwarze
francis.schwarze@empa.ch
41-712-747-247
Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Testing and Research (EMPA)
Source:Eurekalert

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