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Research Abstracts Online
January - December 2011

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University of Minnesota Twin Cities
College of Biological Sciences
College of Food, Agricultural, and Natural Resource Sciences
Department of Plant Biology

PI: Steve Gantt

The Genome and Transcriptome of the White-Rot Fungus Trametes cingulata

The prospect of biofuels displacing significant amounts of fossil fuels depends on our ability to develop new ways of extracting and utilizing the vast quantities of cellulosic sugars (cellulose) found in plants. These complex carbohydrates are found in forestry and agricultural byproducts, and in crops specifically grown for their fuel potential. Cellulose can be efficiently broken down into its component sugars, which are then fermented into ethanol for fuel. However, the starting plant materials (feedstocks) also contain lignin, which effectively blocks the economical degradation of cellulose to simple sugars. Currently, minimizing the negative effects of lignin is energy intensive and/or environmentally destructive and represents most of the cost of converting feedstocks to bioethanol. Some fungi are able to degrade lignins and a few fungal enzymes that have been postulated to degrade lignin have been used as pretreatments for cellulosic feedstocks. However, these attempts to enzymatically remove lignin have been largely unsuccessful. These researchers have sequenced the Trametes cingulata genome, one of these lignin-degrading fungi. They have used GeneMark and fgenesh programs available through MSI to predict about 10,500 genes that encode proteins greater than 100 amino acids long. They are now obtaining RNA sequence information from this and other fungi to determine their transcriptomes and gene expression data that require additional MSI resources for their analyses. These analyses may identify the genes that fungi utilize to biodegrade lignin.

Group Members

Yi-ru Chen, Research Associate
Sajeet Haridas, Graduate Student
Sujata Pulugurta, Research Associate
Simo Sarkanen, Faculty Collaborator
Karen Tang, Research Associate
Kou J. Xiong, Undergraduate Student