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Appl Microbiol Biotechnol. 2006 Jan;69(5):573-9. Epub 2005 Jul 14.

Mineralization of 14C-labelled synthetic lignin and extracellular enzyme activities of the wood-colonizing ascomycetes Xylaria hypoxylon and Xylaria polymorpha.

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  • 1Internationales Hochschulinstitut Zittau, Umweltbiotechnologie, Markt 23, 02763, Zittau, Germany.


Two wood-dwelling ascomycetes, Xylaria hypoxylon and Xylaria polymorpha, were isolated from rotting beech wood. Lignin degradation was studied following the mineralization of a synthetic [formula: see text]-labelled lignin in solid and liquid media. Approximately 9% of the synthetic lignin was mineralized by X. polymorpha during the growth on beech wood meal, and the major fraction (65.5%) was polymerized into water- and dioxan-insoluble material. Both fungi produced laccase (up to 1,200 U l-1) in an agitated complex medium based on tomato juice; peroxidase activity (<80 U l-1) was only detected for X. polymorpha in soybean meal suspension. The enzymatic attack of X. polymorpha on beech wood resulted in the formation of three fractions of water-soluble lignocellulose fragments with molecular masses of 200, 30 (major fraction) and 3 kDa, as demonstrated by high-performance size exclusion chromatography. This fragment pattern differs considerably from that of the white-rot fungus Bjerkandera adusta, which preferentially released smaller lignocellulose fragments (0.8 kDa). The finding that X. polymorpha produced large lignocellulose fragments, along with the fact that high levels of hydrolytic enzymes (esterase 630 U l-1, xylanase 120 U l-1) were detected, indicates the cleavage of bonds between the lignin and hemicellulose moieties.

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