Thermophilic fungi have been an important source of industrial enzymes for decades but research and development efforts have historically focused on the identification and characterization of cellulolytic genes from just a few strains. This approach has produced advanced enzymes over time, but recent genomics-based investigation has almost instantaneously yielded a diverse palette of novel, thermostable, high efficiency gene products that can be mixed and matched to improve existing enzyme cocktails or generate cocktails de novo. Thermophilic fungi likely have unique, but as yet largely uncharacterized roles in the global carbon cycle because they possess optimal growth temperatures (45-55 °C) well above those of the vast majority of microorganisms. The researchers are interested in developing a Chaetomiaceae phylogenomics program to investigate the molecular basis of fungal thermophily and to provide an empirical framework for linking genotype and phenotype, in part to understand the molecular basis of fungal thermophily and advance understanding of fungal ecology.
PI: Amy J. Powell