, Volume 130, Issue 1, pp 59-65

Relationship of nitrogen to the onset and suppression of ligninolytic activity and secondary metabolism in Phanerochaete chrysosporium

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Ligninolytic activity in the white-rot fungus Phanerochaete chrysosporium was previously found not to be induced by lignin, but to develop in cultures in response to nitrogen starvation. Added NH 4 + suppressed existing activity. The present study examined amino acid profiles and protein concentrations during onset of ligninolytic activity (synthetic 14C-lignin→14CO2) in nitrogen-limited cultures, and defined some characteristics of subsequent suppression by added nutrient nitrogen. During the transition between depletion of medium nitrogen and the onset of ligninolytic activity, total free intracellular amino acids increased, then rapidly decreased; changes in glutamate concentration played a major role. Intracellular protein concentration fluctuated in a manner roughly converse to that of the concentration of free amino acids. Protein turnover was rapid (5–7%/h) during the transition period. Glutamate, glutamine, and histidine were the most effective of 14 nitrogenous compounds in suppressing ligninolytic activity after its onset. The suppressive effect was not mediated through carbon (glucose)-catabolite repression or by alterations in culture pH. Activities responsible for oxidation of lignin and the ligninrelated phenol, 4-hydroxy-3-methoxyacetophenone, responded similarly to added nitrogen. Synthesis of a secondary metabolite, veratryl alcohol, like lignin oxidation, was suppressed quite sharply by glutamate and significantly by NH 4 + . Results indicate that nitrogen metabolism affects ligninolytic activity as a part of secondary metabolism, and suggest a role for glutamate metabolism in regulating this phase of culture development.