Distinct growth and secretome strategies for two taxonomically divergent brown rot fungi

Gerald N. Presley, Jonathan S. Schilling

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Brown rot fungi are wood-degrading fungi that employ both oxidative and hydrolytic mechanisms to degrade wood. Hydroxyl radicals that facilitate the oxidative component are powerful nonselective oxidants and are incompatible with hydrolytic enzymes unless they are spatially segregated in wood. Differential gene expression has been implicated in the segregation of these reactions in Postia placenta, but it is unclear if this two-step mechanism varies in other brown rot fungi with different traits and life history strategies that occupy different niches in nature. We employed proteomics to analyze a progression of wood decay on thin wafers, using brown rot fungi with significant taxonomic and niche distances: Serpula lacrymans (Boletales; "dry rot" lumber decay) and Gloeophyllum trabeum (order Gloeophyllales; slash, downed wood). Both fungi produced greater oxidoreductase diversity upon wood colonization and greater glycoside hydrolase activity later, consistent with a two-step mechanism. The two fungi invested very differently, however, in terms of growth (infrastructure) versus protein secretion (resource capture), with the ergosterol/extracted protein ratio being 7-fold higher with S. lacrymans than with G. trabeum. In line with the native substrate associations of these fungi, hemicellulase-specific activities were dominated by mannanase in S. lacrymans and by xylanase in G. trabeum. Consistent with previous observations, S. lacrymans did not produce glycoside hydrolase 6 (GH6) cellobiohydrolases (CBHs) in this study, despite taxonomically belonging to the order Boletales, which is distinguished among brown rot fungi by having CBH genes. This work suggests that distantly related brown rot fungi employ staggered mechanisms to degrade wood, but the underlying strategies vary among taxa.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere02987-16
JournalApplied and environmental microbiology
Issue number7
StatePublished - Apr 1 2017

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was funded in part by the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science (Early Career Grant DE-SC0004012 to J.S.S., from the Office of Biological and Ecological Research [BER], and BER grant DE-SC0012742 to J.S.S.). This work was also supported by the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program under grant 00039202 to G.N.P.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 American Society for Microbiology.


  • Basidiomycetes
  • Gloeophyllum trabeum
  • Glycoside hydrolase
  • Proteomics
  • Serpula lacrymans


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