Nat Biotechnol 29(10) , 922-7 (Oct 2011)
Thermostable enzymes and thermophilic cell factories may afford economic advantages in the production of many chemicals and biomass-based fuels. Here we describe and compare the genomes of two thermophilic fungi, Myceliophthora thermophila and Thielavia terrestris. To our knowledge, these genomes are the first described for thermophilic eukaryotes and the first complete telomere-to-telomere genomes for filamentous fungi. Genome analyses and experimental data suggest that both thermophiles are capable of hydrolyzing all major polysaccharides found in biomass. Examination of transcriptome data and secreted proteins suggests that the two fungi use shared approaches in the hydrolysis of cellulose and xylan but distinct mechanisms in pectin degradation. Characterization of the biomass-hydrolyzing activity of recombinant enzymes suggests that these organisms are highly efficient in biomass decomposition at both moderate and high temperatures. Furthermore, we present evidence suggesting that aside from representing a potential reservoir of thermostable enzymes, thermophilic fungi are amenable to manipulation using classical and molecular genetics.