Thielavia terrestris is a novel microorganism in several respects. First, it is one of a limited number of eukaryotic species that are classified as thermophiles, having a maximum growth temperature at or above 50°C and an inability to grow below 20°C. Second, by virtue of its ability to return carbon in biomass polysaccharides to the atmosphere as carbon dioxide, T. terrestris plays an important role in the global carbon cycle. Third, cellulases and hemicellulases from T. terrestris have been shown to possess superior catalytic and stability characteristics that make them attractive candidates for industrial applications involving biomass hydrolysis. Fourth, the fact that T. terrestris is phylogenetically related to the well-characterized model organism Neurospora crassa and the pathogenic fungus Chaetomium globosum will provide opportunities to garner new insights regarding the evolution and defining characteristics of thermophilic and pathogenic fungi. Collectively, these attributes strongly suggest that the genome sequence of T. terrestris will jump-start ongoing efforts on thermophilic enzymes and biomass conversion, but also enhance the value of genome sequences from other closely related organisms through comparative studies of evolution, regulatory and biochemical pathways and pathogenesis.
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