Biorefining of plant waste or plants containing potentially useful compounds by using a fungal approach, either directly or using enzymes derived from fungi.
White and brown rot fungal degradation of different species of Miscanthus which is an important bioenergy crop was investigated. The results revealed that Miscanthus sacchariflorus which contained a higher hemicellulose content than Miscanthus x gigantueus was degraded more easily. The higher proportion of cellulose in M. x giganteus revealed subtle differences between different fungal species with regards whether cellulose degradation was upregulated or not. Brown rot fungi appeared to show poor colonisation of Miscanthus in contrast to most of the white rot fungi.
White rot fungal degradation of refined Miscanthus was also investigated although water levels had to be reduced in order to achieve fungal growth. Lignin is redistributed during the refining process when it initially melts under the high temperatures and pressures and then the lignin resettles onto the outside of the fibres. The more easy accessibility of the fungal enzymes to the lignin resulted in higher levels of lignin degradation of the refined Miscanthus compared with the unrefirned Miscanthus.
Further studies have resulted in the isolation of unusual wood degrading fungi, particularly from fallen logs, which revealed a much higher culturable diversity inside the log compared with the limited diversity of fruiting structures seen on the outside of the log.
Some research has also investigated the production of different fungal bioproducts. For instance, high levels of exopolysaccharides were obtained from plant waste materials during liquid fermentation of Ganoderma sp.
PW Baker, A Winters, MDC Hale, Biodegradation of Different Genotypes of Miscanthus by Wood Rot Fungi(2016) BioResources 11 (2), 4379-4391
PW Baker, A Charlton, MDC Hale, Increased delignification by white rot fungi after pressure refining Miscanthus (2015) Bioresource technology 189, 81-86
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