UC Santa Barbara researchers find anaerobic fungi that break down lignin

March 16, 2023 |

In California, it’s a tough job, but someone’s got to do it. In this case, the “job” is the breakdown of lignin, the structural biopolymer that gives stems, bark and branches their signature woodiness. One of the most abundant terrestrial polymers on Earth, lignin surrounds valuable plant fibers and other molecules that could be converted into biofuels and other commodity chemicals—if we could only get past that rigid plant cell wall.

Fortunately, the rather laborious process already occurs in the guts of large herbivores through the actions of anaerobic microbes that cows, goats and sheep rely on to release the nutrients trapped behind the biopolymer. In a paper published in the journal Nature Microbiology, researchers in UC Santa Barbara chemical engineering and biological engineering lab prove that a group of anaerobic fungi—Neocallimastigomycetes—are up to the task.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Tags: , ,

Category: Research

Thank you for visting the Digest.