Intracellular Pathways for Lignin Catabolism in White-Rot Fungi

Carlos del Cerro, Erika Erickson, Tao Dong, Allison Wong, Elizabeth Eder, Samuel Purvine, Hugh Mitchell, Karl Weitz, Lye Markillie, Meagan Burnet, David Hoyt, Rosalie Chu, Jan-Fang Cheng, Kelsey Ramirez, Rui Katahira, Wei Xiong, Michael Himmel, Venkataramanan Subramanian, Jeffrey Linger, Davinia Salvachua

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Lignin is a biopolymer found in plant cell walls that accounts for 30% of the organic carbon in the biosphere. White-rot fungi (WRF) are considered the most efficient organisms at degrading lignin in nature. While lignin depolymerization by WRF has been extensively studied, the possibility that WRF are able to utilize lignin as a carbon source is still a matter of controversy. Here, we employ 13C-isotope labeling, systems biology approaches, and in vitro enzyme assays to demonstrate that two WRF, Trametes versicolor and Gelatoporia subvermispora, funnel carbon from lignin-derived aromatic compounds into central carbon metabolism via intracellular catabolic pathways. These results provide insights into global carbon cycling in soil ecosystems and furthermore establish a foundation for employing WRF in simultaneous lignin depolymerization and bioconversion to bioproducts-a key step toward enabling a sustainable bioeconomy.

Original languageAmerican English
Article numbere2017381118
Number of pages10
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number9
StatePublished - 2 Mar 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-2800-77735


  • Aromatic compounds
  • Carbon cycling
  • Gelatoporia subvermispora
  • Metabolism
  • Trametes versicolor


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