Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Breaking biomass better

13.07.2010
DOE JGI sequences wood decaying fungus to advance biofuels prospects

One of the challenges in making cellulosic biofuels commercially viable is to cost-effectively deconstruct plant material to liberate fermentable energy-rich sugars.

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is funding several projects focused on identifying enzymes in organisms that optimally degrade cellulosic feedstocks. One such source are fungi, which break down dead wood and leaf litter in forests; in fact, some pest management companies consider wood rot more destructive for homes than termites.

The DOE Joint Genome Institute (JGI) previously sequenced and published the genomes of two wood-decaying fungi. Now a team of researchers led by scientists from the DOE JGI and the University of Utrecht announce the analysis of a third such genome in a study published online July 11 in Nature Biotechnology (http://bit.ly/cjkaxO). All told, DOE JGI has sequenced and annotated 40 fungal genomes, and 40 more are currently in the works.

"When we go into a forest we don't see layers of dead branches because wood decay fungi take care of them," said Igor Grigoriev, head of the DOE JGI's Fungal Genomics Program and a senior author on the study. "So when we think about bioenergy and degrading biomass and converting that into biofuel, we would like to learn the most efficient ways of doing that from fungi, which have invented many ways of doing that in nature. Schizophyllum commune is the second white rot fungus and third wood degrader we've sequenced. The DOE JGI sequenced the first white rot fungal genome — Phanerochaete chrysosporium — in 2004. Then last year we sequenced the first brown rot fungal genome – Postia placenta." Postia was found to utilize a unique arsenal of small oxidizing agents that blast through plant cell walls to decompose cellulose into simple sugars.

Found on every continent except Antarctica, S. commune is characteristic of other white rot fungi. S. commune breaks down cellulose and lignin by invading xylem tissue, and researchers hope that studying its 38.5 million nucleotide genome (containing about 13,200 genes) will help them harness the most relevant set of enzymes for specific biofuel production strategies. White rot fungi also have potential bioremediation applications as they have enzymes that can break down contaminants such as uranium and heavy metals.

"The surprise we saw is how significantly larger is the variety of enzymes in S. commune that are involved in plant biomass degradation compared to P. chrysosporium," Grigoriev said. "In fact, S. commune has among the most extensive enzymatic machinery for degrading cellulose, hemicellulose, and lignin of the fungi we examined."

One additional advantage to using S. commune, said study senior author Han Wosten, a microbiologist at the University of Utrecht who is studying S. commune's mushroom-forming capabilities, is that the fungus can be easily grown in the lab. Additionally, he said, researchers can inactivate the genes in S. commune by deleting them. "This is the only mushroom-forming fungus in which gene deletions have been made," he said, "allowing us to study the roles of genes in wood degradation and mushroom formation." Wosten also suggested that there are opportunities for inserting genes and modulating expression levels to drive target protein production pathways.

Grigoriev said the DOE JGI is in the process of sequencing over a dozen more wood-decaying fungi. According to the Genomes OnLine Database (GOLD) the DOE JGI is responsible for more than a third of all fungal genomes sequenced or in the queue to be sequenced worldwide, and with two white-rot fungi and a brown-rot fungus done, he added, "we think we're only touching the surface and we need to look at more genomes in order to understand the whole scope of diversity and mechanisms applied to degrading cellulose."

Other DOE JGI authors on the paper are Andrea Aerts, Scott Baker (Pacific Northwest National Laboratory), Erika Lindquist, Susan Lucas, Asaf Salamov, and Jeremy Schmutz (HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology).

The U.S. Department of Energy Joint Genome Institute, supported by DOE's Office of Science, is committed to advancing genomics in support of DOE missions related to clean energy generation and environmental characterization and cleanup. DOE JGI, headquartered in Walnut Creek, Calif., provides integrated high-throughput sequencing and computational analysis that enable systems-based scientific approaches to these challenges. Follow DOE JGI on Twitter and Facebook.

David Gilbert | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.lbl.gov

Further reports about: Biotechnology Breaking Waves Genom JGI Utrecht cellulosic biofuel

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht What happens in the cell nucleus after fertilization
06.12.2016 | Helmholtz Zentrum München - Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Gesundheit und Umwelt

nachricht Researchers uncover protein-based “cancer signature”
05.12.2016 | Universität Basel

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

Im Focus: MADMAX: Max Planck Institute for Physics takes up axion research

The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.

The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...

Im Focus: Molecules change shape when wet

Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water

In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

Speed data for the brain’s navigation system

06.12.2016 | Health and Medicine

What happens in the cell nucleus after fertilization

06.12.2016 | Life Sciences

IHP presents the fastest silicon-based transistor in the world

05.12.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>