The project, chosen from amongst more than 400 entered for the annual competition of the Joint Genome Institute (JGI) of the United States Department of Energy's Science Office, is one of just over 40 which have the go-ahead, one of the seven coordinated by a European body and the only one led by a Spanish person.
The oyster mushroom, Pleurotus ostreatus, will be the first edible mushroom in the world to be genetically sequenced but, apart from its characteristics that make its consumption beneficial (rich in vitamins and proteins), this fungus is a model for studying the CO2 cycle ?carbon dioxide being one of the principal gases of the greenhouse effect ?and holds great potential for use in bioremediation –biodegradation of contaminants ? reasons why, together with other crops such as the yucca or cotton, it has been chosen for genome sequencing by the mentioned North American Genome Institute.
The oyster mushroom and CO2 balance
The oyster mushroom is actively involved in the re-circulation of carbon at a global level, in as much as this fungus is a lignin-degrading one, lignin being a component of wood of trees and other plants that form part of the second most important store of carbon in the Biosphere. The degradation of this compound is an essential step in the transformation of cellulose - the principal store for carbon ?into biofuel.
Moreover, it has to be taken into account that lignin has a chemical composition that is not easy to break down ?similar to some of the contaminant compounds that man releases into the environment, such as certain