Using a grass substrate to compare decay among two clades of brown rot fungi

Justin T. Kaffenberger, Jonathan S. Schilling

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Interest in the mechanisms of wood-degrading fungi has grown in tandem with lignocellulose bioconversion efforts, yet many potential biomass feedstocks are non-woody. Using corn stover (Zea mays) as a substrate, we tracked degradative capacities among brown rot fungi from the Antrodia clade, including Postia placenta, the first brown rot fungus to have its genome sequenced. Decay dynamics were compared against Gloeophyllum trabeum from the Gloeophyllum clade. Weight loss induced by P. placenta (6.2 %) and five other Antrodia clade isolates (average 7.4 %) on corn stalk after 12 weeks demonstrated inefficiency among these fungi, relative to decay induced by G. trabeum (44.4 %). Using aspen (Populus sp.) as a woody substrate resulted in, on average, a fourfold increase in weight loss induced by Antrodia clade fungi, while G. trabeum results matched those on stover. The sequence and trajectories of chemical constituent losses differed as a function of substrate but not fungal clade. Instead, chemical data suggest that characters unique to stover limit decay by the Antrodia clade, rather than disparities in growth rate or extractives toxicity. High p-coumaryl lignin content, lacking the methoxy groups characteristically cleaved during brown rot, is among potential rate-distinguishing characters in grasses. This ineptitude among Antrodia clade fungi on grasses was supported by meta-analysis of other unrelated studies using grass substrates. Concerning application, results expose a problem if adopting the strategy of the model decay fungus P. placenta to treat corn stover, a widely available plant feedstock. Overall, the results insinuate phylogenetically distinct modes of brown rot and demonstrate the benefit of using non-woody substrates to probe wood degradation mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8831-8840
Number of pages10
JournalApplied Microbiology and Biotechnology
Issue number19
StatePublished - Oct 2013


  • Antrodia
  • Bioconversion
  • Biodegradation
  • Gloeophyllum trabeum
  • Poales
  • Postia placenta

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