Among wood-degrading fungi, lineages holding taxa that selectively metabolize carbohydrates without significant lignin removal (brown rot) are polyphyletic, having evolved multiple times from lignin-removing white rot fungi. Given the qualitative nature of the 'brown rot' classifier, we aimed to quantify and compare the temporal sequence of carbohydrate removal among brown rot clades. Lignocellulose deconstruction was compared among fungi using distinct plant substrates (angiosperm, conifer, grass). Specifically, aspen, pine and corn stalk were harvested over a 16-week time series from microcosms containing Gloeophyllum trabeum, Fomitopsis pinicola, Ossicaulis lignatilis, Fistulina hepatica, Serpula lacrymans, Wolfiporia cocos or Dacryopinax sp. After quantifying plant mass loss, a thorough compositional analysis was complemented by a saccharification test to determine wood cell wall accessibility. Mass loss and accessibility varied depending on fungal decomposer and substrate, and trajectories of loss for hemicellulosic components and cellulose differed among plant tissue types. At any given stage of decomposition, however, lignocellulose accessibility and the fraction remaining of carbohydrates and lignin within a plant tissue type were generally the same, regardless of fungal isolate. This suggests that the sequence of plant component removal at this typical scale of characterization is shared among these brown rot lineages, despite their diverse genomes and secretomes.
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© 2015 Society for Applied Microbiology and John Wiley & Sons Ltd.