Brazilian researchers look into genetic mechanisms of fungus-derived enzymes to break down sugarcane

May 1, 2018 |

In Brazil, important knowledge of the different biological mechanisms behind the control and production of hydrolytic enzymes specifically by fungi has been garnered by a group of researchers at the University of Campinas (UNICAMP) in São Paulo State, Brazil, partnering with colleagues from the National Bioethanol Science & Technology Laboratory (CTBE), which belongs to the National Energy & Materials Research Center (CNPEM) in Campinas, and from Rio de Janeiro State University (UERJ).

The researchers analyzed the genetic mechanisms involved in the secretion and expression of enzymes used by three species of fungus to degrade sugarcane. The species were Trichoderma harzianum, T. reesei and T. atroviride.

These fungi are frequently found in soil and growing on wood, bark and even other fungi, as well as many other substrates. They hydrolyze various kinds of carbohydrate, including the cellulose in sugarcane straw and bagasse, by means of enzymes present in their cell walls.

The researchers used several techniques in biotechnology and bioinformatics to find out whether the enzymes produced by the three Trichoderma species have similarities and differences that may enhance or limit their efficiency in breaking down biomass, as well as whether they behave synergistically during this process.

Conducted as part of a project supported by the São Paulo Research Foundation—FAPESP, the study was published in Scientific Reports.

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