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Open Access Review

Using a model filamentous fungus to unravel mechanisms of lignocellulose deconstruction

Elizabeth A Znameroski12 and N Louise Glass3*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, University of California, 94720, Berkeley, CA, USA

2 Current address: Novozymes, 1445 Drew Avenue, 95618, Davis, CA, USA

3 Department of Plant and Microbial Biology, University of California, 94720, Berkeley, CA, USA

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Biotechnology for Biofuels 2013, 6:6  doi:10.1186/1754-6834-6-6

Published: 22 January 2013

Abstract

Filamentous fungi are the main source of enzymes used to degrade lignocellulose to fermentable sugars for the production of biofuels. While the most commonly used organism for the production of cellulases in an industrial setting is Trichoderma reesei (Hypocrea jecorina), recent work in the model filamentous fungus Neurospora crassa has shown that the variety of molecular, genetic and biochemical techniques developed for this organism can expedite analyses of the complexities involved in the utilization of lignocellulose as a source of carbon. These include elucidating regulatory networks associated with plant cell wall deconstruction, the identification of signaling molecules necessary for induction of the expression of genes encoding lignocellulolytic enzymes and the characterization of new cellulolytic enzymatic activities. In particular, the availability of a full genome deletion strain set for N. crassa has expedited high throughput screening for mutants that display a cellulolytic phenotype. This review summarizes the key findings of several recent studies using N. crassa to further understanding the mechanisms of plant cell wall deconstruction by filamentous fungi.

Keywords:
Cellulase; Lignocellulosic biofuels; Filamentous fungus; Transcriptome; Secretome; Neurospora; Trichoderma