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JGI Publishes Genome Sequence of White Rot Fungus

NEW YORK, May 4 (GenomeWeb News) - The US Department of Energy's Joint Genome Institute said today that it has sequenced the genome of the white rot fungus, Phanerochaete chrysosporium.

A paper discussing the draft sequence appears in the May 2 issue of Nature Biotechnology.

P. chrysosporium degrades the plant polymer lignin, and may also be capable of remediating explosive contaminants, pesticides, and toxic waste with similar chemical structures to lignin, according to JGI researchers. The organism may also have applications in the pulp and paper industry because it is able to consume lignin while leaving the cellulose of the wood nearly untouched.

The fungus is the first basidiomycete fungus to be sequenced - a class of fungus that is thought to have diverged from the ascomycetes (the classification that includes Saccharomyces cerevisiae and Neurospora) over 500 million years ago. This evolutionary history provides "a glimpse into the genetic diversity of fungi," said Dan Rokhsar, head of the JGI Computational Genomics Department, in a statement.

Rokhsar added that P. chrysosporium is the first of three fungal genomes with degradative enzymes that JGI is sequencing. "The availability of these genomes will spur industrial and bioremediative uses for these organisms," he said.

JGI used shotgun sequencing to reach ten-fold coverage of the 30-million-base pair genome of P. chrysosporium, and used a predictive modeling approach to identify 11,777 genes in the genome. The JGI research team estimated that the organism's genome encodes more than 240 theoretical carbohydrate-active enzymes.

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