Aureobasidium namibiae (formerly known as Aureobasidium pullulans var. namibiae)
Aureobasidium can produce a variety of enzymes that can be used in the degradation/modification of lignocellulose substrates. The Aureobasidium genome data will facilitate our research work (and similar efforts of other groups) with a goal to identify genes encoding various enzymes that could be involved in degradation of lignocellulose substrates. The final aim of these efforts is the construction of an economically feasible and low-environmental-impact technology for the production of biofuels from lignocellulose substrates. The capability of Aureobasidium to produce several other biotechnologically interesting enzymes and metabolites indicates additional potential uses of the fungus or its genes.
Understanding and management of global climate change consequences
The discovery of great quantities of Aureobasidium in Arctic glaciers was a surprise to the microbiological community researching polar environments. Just as unusual was the description of a novel variety Aureobasidium subglaciale that has so far been isolated exclusively from the glacial environments. The data from numerous independent studies indicate that extreme environments such as the quickly disappearing glacial habitats may represent a large repository and generator of microbial diversity as well as an important sink of carbon that is now releasing in the outer environments. The climate changes are also involved in the increasing drought frequency and the need for irrigation of agricultural land, which often leads to salinization of the soil. Both drought and salinization are major agricultural problems that substantially decrease the World food production. The genes from the halotolerant Aureobasidium will provide new targets for the construction of genetically modified crops with increased salt- and drought-tolerance, which could be cultivated on the now useless former agricultural land.
Ionising radiation shielding/utilization
Besides its remarkable ability to tolerate a variety of other stress factors, Aureobasidium can grow in environments with increased levels of ionising radiation such as the damaged Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant. Its cell walls contain the pigment melanin that shields them from the harmful effects of the radiation and can possibly even convert it into a utilizable form of energy. The available genome of Aureobasidium will benefit the research groups that study fungi from the radioactively contaminated environments and facilitate in their development of novel technologies used for working with ionizing radiation.
Aureobasidium namibiae was isolated from marble in Namibia, Africa. The variety was described on a basis of a single strain. It has the narrowest growth temperature range of all varieties in the species.
Three other species of Aureobasidium have been
sequenced, in addition to A. namibiae: