myceliophthora thermophila

The enzymes from these newly sequenced fungi will further stimulate the search for better ways to transform green waste—stalks, twigs, agricultural straws, and leaves—into renewable chemicals and fuels.

Two heat-loving fungi, often found in composts that self-ignite without flame or spark, could soon have new vocations. The complete genetic makeup of Myceliophthora thermophi­la and Thielavia terrestris has been decoded by an international group of scientists. The findings, published in Nature Biotechnology, may lead to the faster and greener development of biomass-based fuels, chemicals, and other industrial materials.

In sequencing M. thermophila and T. terrestris, the research team also discovered that both fungi could ac­celerate the breakdown of fibrous materials from plants at temperatures ranging from 40–70 °C. 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. But where others fail, these fungi thrive.

Sandia scientist Amy Powell, participated in this multinational research effort. Read the R&D Magazine article, the press release from Concordia University (a more complete report), or at Biofuels Daily.