Heat-loving fungi open way to greener fuels
Toronto: Two heat-loving fungi, found in composts that self-ignite minus flame or spark, could pave the way to faster development of greener bio-fuels and chemicals, new research says.
The possibility has opened up after scientists decoded the complete genetic makeup of the fungi Myceliophthora thermophila and Thielavia terrestris.
These discoveries will also prompt the search for better ways to transform green waste - stalks, twigs, agricultural straws and leaves - into renewable chemicals and fuels.
"Organisms that thrive at high temperatures are rare. Fewer than 40 heat-loving fungi have been identified and they hold great promise in the production of many chemicals and biomass-based fuels," says study co-author Adrian Tsang, biology professor at Montreal`s Concordia University.
"We have cracked the genetic blueprint of two such fungi. To our knowledge these are the only organisms, aside from a few bacteria, whose genomes have been fully sequenced from end-to end," added Tsang, the journal Nature Biotechnology reports.
Enzymes produced by these fungi could also be tweaked to replace the use of environmentally harmful chemicals in the manufacture of plant-based commodities such as pulp and paper, according to a Concordia statement.
In sequencing Myceliophthora thermophila and Thielavia terrestris, the research team also discovered that both fungi could accelerate the breakdown of fibrous materials from plants at temperatures ranging from 40 to 70 degrees Celsius.
This temperature range is too hot for many of the typical enzymes, which form an important component of some industrial processes used to degrade biomass into a range of chemicals and products.
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