Fomitopsis betulina CIRM-BRFM 1772 v1.1
Fomitopsis betulina by Pierre-Arthur Moreau, Université de Lille, France
Fomitopsis betulina by Pierre-Arthur Moreau, Université de Lille, France

This genome was sequenced as part of the JGI CSP “Survey of the lignocellulolytic capabilities over the order Polyporales” project. Within Agaricomycotina, the order Polyporales is the major group of wood decayers in temperate and tropical forests. As such, Polyporales have a pivotal role in the global carbon cycle. Polyporales include white-rot and brown-rot filamentous fungi able to degrade lignocellulose polymers from wood through the production of extracellular enzymes and oxygen radicals. Lignocellulose is a high-potential renewable resource for the production of biofuels and chemicals, including platform and high-value molecules. Therefore, white-rot and brown-rot filamentous fungi have a high potential for biotechnological processes, particularly for lignocellulosic feedstock biorefinery applications.

Fomitopsis betulina (Bull.) B.K. Cui, M.L. Han & Y.C. Dai 2016, comb.nov. (MycoBank no.: MB 812646), previously named Piptoporus betulinus (Bull.) P. Karst. 1881 is known as birch polypore, birch bracket or razor strop. Two fragments of F. betulina were carried by Ötzi the Iceman who travelled 5300 years ago across the Ötztal Alps at the Austrian-Italian border. The fungus was possibly used by Ötzi as a medicine, as suggested by traditional uses in Russia, Baltic countries, Hungary, and Romania for its various therapeutic properties; immunomodulator, anti-parasitic, remedy for gastrointestinal disorders, antiseptic, anti-bleeding or painkiller. Pharmacological activities were confirmed by several in vivo studies (Reviewed in Pleszczyńska et al., World J Microbiol Biotechnol, 2017).

This brown-rot fungus grows from the end of summer and throughout autumn on birch, causing cubic brown-rot. The rot develops from the cortical cylinder and the sapwood to reach the central cylinder. The rotted wood is yellowish-brown or reddish-brown. The basidiome appears at the ultimate state of the rot, when the wood is deeply cracked and fragile. It is specific to the genus Betula and follows its distribution, in temperature regions of the northern hemisphere. Very common in northern, central, and eastern Europe, it is more rarely found in southern Europe. The genome sequencing for Fomitopsis betulina will allow the identification of novel biocatalysts to be used in biorefineries, for plant biomass conversion or for bioremediation.