Enzymatic systems involved in decomposition reflects the ecology and taxonomy of saprotrophic fungi
Laboratory of Environmental Microbiology, Institute of Microbiology of the ASCR, 14220 Praha 4, Czech Republic.
One hundred and eleven strains of Basidiomycota, 39 strains of Ascomycota and 2 strains of Mucoromycotina belonging to wood decomposers that cause white-rot (WR) or brown-rot (BR), other wood associated saprotrophs (WA), litter decomposing cord-forming Basidiomycota (LDF), and saprotrophic microfungi (SA), were screened for the production of hydrolytic enzymes and laccase. The presence of enzyme-encoding genes was also analysed in the published genomes of saprotrophic fungi. Several genes, including those for acidic phosphatase, β-glucosidase and N-acetylglucosaminidase, were common in the genomes with enzyme activity widely displayed by fungi, while other enzymes, such as certain hemicellulases or laccase, were produced less frequently. Enzyme production by saprotrophic fungi was shaped by the combination of their ecophysiology and taxonomy. Basidiomycota exhibited higher activities of all enzymes, except alkaline phosphatase, α-glucosidase, N-acetylglucosaminidase, α-mannosidase and α-fucosidase, than Ascomycota. The SA and BR fungi showed distinct enzyme production patterns, while the enzyme production by WR, LDF and WA was similar. Differences among species were typically reflected in the level of enzyme activity rather than in the absence of enzymes. Enzyme screening results showed that in several cases, fungi exhibited enzyme activity without the presence of the corresponding gene and vice versa. This indicates that the use of genome-derived information for the prediction of potential enzyme production has substantial limitations and cannot replace functional screening of fungal cultures.