Bioenergy: Plant Cell Wall Degradation


A systems biology approach to understand plant cell wall deconstruction by Neurospora crassa

The filamentous fungus Neurospora crassa is a model laboratory organism, but in nature is commonly found growing on dead plant material, particularly grasses. Using functional genomics resources available for N. crassa, which include a near full genome deletion strain set and whole genome microarrays, we are undertaking a system-wide analysis of plant cell wall and cellulose degradation. We use expression profiling and secretome analyses to identify genes/proteins associated with plant cell wall deconstruction by N. crassa. In addition, high throughput methods using the near full genome deletion strain set has revealed both known and unknown components of plant cell wall deconstruction. Our results show that the powerful tools available in N. crassa allow for a comprehensive system level understanding of plant cell wall degradation mechanisms used by a ubiquitous filamentous fungus.