A Laccase Gene Reporting System That Enables Genetic Manipulations in a Brown Rot Wood Decomposer Fungus Gloeophyllum trabeum

Microbiol Spectr. 2023 Jan 18:e0424622. doi: 10.1128/spectrum.04246-22. Online ahead of print.

ABSTRACT

Brown rot fungi are primary decomposers of wood and litter in northern forests. Relative to other microbes, these fungi have evolved distinct mechanisms that rapidly depolymerize and metabolize cellulose and hemicellulose without digesting the more recalcitrant lignin. Its efficient degradative system has therefore attracted considerable attention for the development of sustainable biomass conversion technologies. However, there has been a significant lack of genetic tools in brown rot species by which to manipulate genes for both mechanistic studies and engineering applications. To advance brown rot genetic studies, we provided a gene-reporting system that can facilitate genetic manipulations in a model fungus Gloeophyllum trabeum. We first optimized a transformation procedure in G. trabeum, and then transformed the fungus into a constitutive laccase producer with a well-studied white rot laccases gene (from Trametes versicolor). With this, we built a gene reporting system based on laccase gene’s expression and its rapid assay using an 2,2′-azino-bis(3-ethylbenzothiazoline-6-sulfonic acid) (ABTS) indicator dye. The laccase reporter system was validated robust enough to allow us to test the effects of donor DNA’s formats, protoplast viability, and gene regulatory elements on transformation efficiencies. Going forward, we anticipate the toolset provided in this work would expedite phenotyping studies and genetic engineering of brown rot species. IMPORTANCE One of the most ubiquitous types of decomposers in nature, brown rot fungi, has lacked robust genetic tools by which to manipulate genes and understand its biology. Brown rot fungi are primary decomposers in northern forests helping recycle the encased carbons in trees back to ecosystem. Relative to other microbes, these fungi employ distinctive mechanisms to disrupt and consume the lignified polysaccharides in wood. Its decay mechanism allows fast, selective carbohydrate catabolization, but without digesting lignin-a barren component that produces least energy trade back for fungal metabolisms. Thus, its efficient degradative system provides a great platform for developing sustainable biotechnologies for biomass conversions. However, progress has been hampered by the lack genetic tools facilitating mechanistic studies and engineering applications. Here, the laccase reporter system provides a genetic toolset for genetic manipulations in brown rot species, which we expect would advance relevant genetic studies for discovering and harnessing the unique fungal degradative mechanisms.

PMID:36651769 | DOI:10.1128/spectrum.04246-22

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