The oyster mushroom (Pleurotus ostreatus), apart from reducing cholesterol and having anticancerogenic properties, is characterised for its capacity for breaking down cellulose. Finding out which genes are responsible for this activity – the reason why the fungus is sometimes used as a decontaminating agent, was the aim of the PhD thesis by Arantza Eizmendi Goikoetxea, which she defended at the Public University of Navarre with the title, Molecular Characterisation of a family of genes of cellobiohydrolases in the “Pleurotus ostreatus” fungus.
Degradation of cellulose
In nature, the oyster mushroom grows on dead trunks of trees where the lignin and cellulose – the two principal components of wood - are being broken down. Degradation of lignin has been studied over the years by a number of research teams that have characterised the genes involved. But nobody, to date, has tackled the degradation of cellulose from a molecular perspective.
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