Commonly found in forest ecosystems, brown rot fungi such as Postia placenta are a major cause of wood decay and are thought to be responsible for 10 percent of the wood decay in the annual timber harvest. Unlike white-rot fungi, however, brown-rot fungi can rapidly break down the cellulose in wood without affecting the lignin.
The 33 Mbp genome of P. placenta was sequenced in 2006 using the tried-and-true Sanger method, and was published in 2009. The information allowed researchers to compare white-rot, brown-rot and soft-rot fungal genomes for the first time. Now researchers plan to resequence the genome using new sequencing technologies in order to further refine the genomic data collected during the assembly and annotation process. The fungal information provides researchers with insight into forest ecosystems as well as the process by which brown-rot fungi break down wood. For example, the forests could provide as much as 370 million dry tons of biomass annually for biofuel production, but the challenge of breaking down the lignocellulose in a cost-effective manner remains.
Principal Investigators: Daniel Cullen, US Forest Service, Forest Products Laboratory
Program: CSP 2010