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Microbiology. 2010 Dec;156(Pt 12):3814-29. doi: 10.1099/mic.0.041327-0. Epub 2010 Aug 12.

Volatile organic compound production by organisms in the genus Ascocoryne and a re-evaluation of myco-diesel production by NRRL 50072.

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Department of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry, Yale University New Haven, CT 06511, USA.


The Patagonian fungal endophyte NRRL 50072 is reported to produce a variety of medium-chain and highly branched volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that have been highlighted for their potential as fuel alternatives and are collectively termed myco-diesel. To assess the novelty of this observation, we determined the extent to which ten closely related Ascocoryne strains from commercial culture collections possess similar VOC production capability. DNA sequencing established a high genetic similarity between NRRL 50072 and each Ascocoryne isolate, consistent with its reassignment as Ascocoryne sarcoides. The Ascocoryne strains did not produce highly branched medium-chain-length alkanes, and efforts to reproduce the branched alkane production of NRRL 50072 were unsuccessful. However, we confirmed the production of 30 other products and expanded the list of VOCs for NRRL 50072 and members of the genus Ascocoryne. VOCs detected from the cultures consisted of short- and medium-chain alkenes, ketones, esters and alcohols and several sesquiterpenes. Ascocoryne strains NRRL 50072 and CBS 309.71 produced a more diverse range of volatiles than the other isolates tested. CBS 309.71 also showed enhanced production compared with other strains when grown on cellulose agar. Collectively, the members of the genus Ascocoryne demonstrated production of over 100 individual compounds, with a third of the short- and medium-chain compounds also produced when cultures were grown on a cellulose substrate. This comparative production analysis could facilitate future studies to identify and manipulate the biosynthetic machinery responsible for production of individual VOCs, including several that have a potential application as biofuels.

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