Frequently isolated from soil and self-heating compost, Sporotrichum thermophile grows optimally between 45°C and 50°C. This fungus is a highly proficient decomposer of cellulose. Its growth rate on insoluble cellulose is similar to its growth rate on glucose. Since high temperatures help solubilize some components of lignocellulosic feedstock and decrease the viscosity of slurries of biomass, thermophilic enzymes would have process advantages. Thermophilic enzymes would also have advantages in stability over the lifetime of a process, and increased catalytic rates at higher temperatures. Sporotrichum thermophile would be an excellent source of genes encoding extracellular thermophilic enzymes. The enzymes and enzyme cocktails derived from this species would promote the development of advanced technologies for the biomass derived fuels and chemicals sector and many other industries.
The research community interested in fungal extremophiles comprises over 200 groups and notably includes the major enzyme manufacturers. The vast majority of the researchers working on fungal extremophiles are interested in secreted enzymes that are active and stable at high temperature and high pH for industrial applications. Structural biologists are also interested in working with thermostable proteins from fungal thermophiles.
Berka RM, Grigoriev IV, Otillar R, Salamov A, Grimwood J, Reid I, Ishmael N, John T, Darmond C, Moisan MC, Henrissat B, Coutinho PM, Lombard V, Natvig DO, Lindquist E, Schmutz J, Lucas S, Harris P, Powlowski J, Bellemare A, Taylor D, Butler G, de Vries RP, Allijn IE, van den Brink J, Ushinsky S, Storms R, Powell AJ, Paulsen IT, Elbourne LD, Baker SE, Magnuson J, Laboissiere S, Clutterbuck AJ, Martinez D, Wogulis M, de Leon AL, Rey MW, Tsang A.(2011) Comparative genomic analysis of the thermophilic biomass-degrading fungi Myceliophthora thermophila and Thielavia terrestris. Nature Biotechnol. 29(10):922-927.