Production of extracellular enzymes and degradation of biopolymers by saprotrophic microfungi from the upper layers of forest soil

Research paper by Petr Baldrian, Jana Voříšková, Petra Dobiášová, Věra Merhautová, Ludmila Lisá, Vendula Valášková

Indexed on: 26 Feb '10Published on: 26 Feb '10Published in: Plant and soil


Production of extracellular enzymes participating in the degradation of biopolymers was studied in 29 strains of nonbasidiomycetous microfungi isolated from Quercus petraea forest soil based on the frequency of occurrence. Most of the isolates were ascomycetes and belonged to the genera Acremonium, Alternaria, Cladosporium, Geomyces, Hypocrea, Myrothecium, Ochrocladosporium, and Penicillium (18 isolates), and two isolates were zygomycetes. Only six isolates showed phenol oxidation activity which was low and none of the strains were able to degrade humic acids. Approximately half of the strains were able to degrade cellulose and all but six degraded chitin. Most strains produced significant amounts of the cellulolytic enzymes cellobiohydrolase and β-glucosidase and the chitinolytic enzymes chitinase, chitobiosidase, and N-acetylglucosaminidase. The highest cellulase activities were found in Penicillium strains, and the highest activity of chitinolytic enzymes was found in Acremonium sp. The production of the hemicellulose-degrading enzymes α-galactosidase, β-galactosidase, and α-mannosidase was mostly low. The microfungal strains were able to produce significant growth on a range of 41–87, out of 95 simple C-containing substrates tested in a Biolog™ assay, monosaccharides being for all strains the most rapidly metabolized C-sources. Comparison with saprotrophic basidiomycetes from the same environment showed that microfungi have similar cellulolytic capabilities and higher chitinase activities which testifies for their active role in the decomposition of both lignocellulose and dead fungal biomass, important pools of soil carbon.