Fungal Biodegradation of Lignocelluloses

  • Annele HatakkaEmail author
  • Kenneth E. Hammel
Part of the The Mycota book series (MYCOTA, volume 10)


Many fungi degrade cellulose and hemicelluloses using extracellular hydrolytic enzymes, but fungi that degrade woody biomass are the only ones to efficiently degrade polysaccharides encased in lignin. White-rot basidiomycetes begin by mineralizing the lignin, using extracellular oxidative enzymes to cleave this recalcitrant biopolymer. Enzymes with likely roles include lignin peroxidases, manganese peroxidases, versatile peroxidases and laccases. In some cases the enzyme may attack the lignin polymer directly; in others the ligninolytic agent is likely a small molecule that one of the enzymes has oxidized to a reactive form. So far, all white rot fungi appear to secrete manganese peroxidases, and most produce laccases, whereas the other two enzymes are less common. After ligninolysis, white-rot fungi assimilate the remaining polysaccharides using conventional glycosylhydrolase systems that contain both endo- and exo-acting enzymes. Brown rot basidiomycetes also degrade lignocellulose efficiently, but their biodegradative systems are less comprehensive. These fungi generally lack ligninolytic enzymes, initiating decay instead with reactive oxygen species generated from the reaction between Fe2+ and H2O2. The limited disruption caused by these oxidants apparently allows a limited set of endo-acting glycosylhydrolases to depolymerize the remaining polysaccharides. Biological wood pulping is one promising application of ligninolytic fungi.


Lignin Degradation Versatile Peroxidase Multicopper Oxidase Fenton Reagent Fenton Chemistry 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Food and Environmental SciencesUniversity of HelsinkiHelsinkiFinland
  2. 2.USDA Forest Products LaboratoryOne Gifford Pinchot DriveMadisonUSA

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