A major, recognized roadblock in conversion of biomass to fuels and chemicals is the presence of inhibitory compounds which render the sugar streams unusable. These inhibitors are commonly present in lignocellulosic biomass that has been subjected to physical and chemical pretreatment for release of sugars. The fungus Coniochaeta ligniaria has been shown to be tolerant of the inhibitory compounds and thus could prove useful in removing a bottleneck from the process of converting plant biomass to fuels. By sequencing the genome of this fungus, researchers hope to gain insights into how microbes tolerate, respond to, and transform the inhibitors present in biomass sugars. Additionally, the sequence is expected to provide information on genes that can metabolize sugars and break down lignocellulose, among other capabilities.
PI: Nancy Nichols, USDA-ARS