Trametes versicolor: white rot fungi can degrade lignin
So far, biofuels are produced from plants that serve as food or animal feed actually. But researchers want to develop wood and straw as a fuel supplier. May help fungi decompose in the natural wood - and for millions of years.
About 300 million years, the growth of coal ended rather abruptly. Researchers suspect that white-rot fungi were responsible. They had developed an enzyme that cleaves the education necessary for coal plant material lignin. Now, researchers want to use the power of fungi for the production of biofuels, as they report in the journal "Science". Because lignin is an obstacle here.
The international team of researchers had compared the genomes of various white rot fungi with that of brown rot fungi. The latter can not cleave lignin. The genetic difference suggests that the white-rot fungi 290 million years ago developed the lignin-cleaving enzyme, and also formed a separate genus. At the same time also ended the Carboniferous, the Coal Age, by the coal was still promoted.
The researchers see a direct connection. This is from plant material by means of pressure and the absence of oxygen coal, it may not rot before. Before that it protects lignin, the wood can be indigestible for many fungi. With the advent of lignin rotting mushrooms, this protection was no longer available.
Wood and straw processed
"The primitive organisms had developed enzymes with which they were able to crack the hitherto extremely recalcitrant lignin," the researchers involved in the study Ángel Martínez said, according to Spanish National Research Council. The dead plants fell apart before they were transformed into coal.
According to the National Science Foundation, the U.S. researchers want to use the white rot soon, to crack even for bacteria in the rules of indigestible lignin-cellulose networks of many plants. This would allow for the production of sugar it contains can be used for biofuels. Biodiesel Production Fungal enzymes to degrade wood
The bioenergy expert Bernd Krautkremer from the Fraunhofer Institute for Wind Energy and Energy System Technology sees the great potential of fungi ligninspaltenden: "The issue of biofuels is indeed the competition with food production." With the help of fungi can also use the high lignin content plant parts such as wood or straw, said Krautkremer, who was not involved in the study. The so-produced biofuel mountains fewer problems. Because these precursors are already indigestible to humans and most animals.