Biotechnological Wood Modification with Selective White-Rot Fungi and Its Molecular Mechanisms

Karin Fackler1,2*, Cornelia Gradinger1,2, Marieke Schmutzer1,2, Crtomir Tavzes3, Ingo Burgert4, Manfred Schwanninger5, Barbara Hinterstoisser4, Takashi Watanabe6 and Kurt Messner2

Competence Centre for Wood Composites and Wood Chemistry (Wood K plus), St. Peter Straße 25, A-4021 Linz, Austria

2Institute of Chemical Engineering, Vienna University of Technology, Getreidemarkt 9/166, A-1060 Vienna, Austria
3University of Ljubljana, Biotechnical Faculty, Department of Wood Science and Technology, Rozna dolina, Cesta VIII/34, SI-1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia
4Department of Material Sciences and Process Engineering, BOKU – University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences, Peter Jordan Strasse 82, A-1190 Vienna, Austria
5Department of Chemistry, BOKU – University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences, Muthgasse 18, A-1190 Vienna, Austria
6Laboratory of Biomass Conversion, Research Institute for Sustainable Humanosphere, Kyoto University, Gokasho Uji, Kyoto 611-0011, Japan

Article history:

Received December 19, 2006
Accepted April 20, 2007

Key words:

white-rot fungi, wood, lignin, biomodification, FT-NIR, EPR

Microbial mechanisms of lignin degradation may be utilised for solid-state fermentations other than biopulping, during which the selective conversion of lignin is required. The current paper reviews current work into selective lignin conversion, with emphasis on the contributions made by our research group, which consists of researchers from five different laboratories. Three of them cooperate within Wood K plus. The recent research of this group has focussed on fermentations utilising the unique metabolism of selective white-rot fungi to modify wood surfaces during relatively short fermentation times of less than one week and on research into the molecular mechanisms causing these modifications. Lignin degradation by selective fungi (e.g. Ceriporiopsis subvermispora and species of the genus Phlebia) on the wood surfaces was significant after three days. After seven days the overall lignin content of spruce wood shavings was reduced by more than 3.5 %. Lignin loss was accompanied by an increase of extractable substances. To evaluate small changes and to trace the fungal modification processes, Fourier transform infrared spectroscopic (FTIR) techniques and electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) spectroscopy were applied and adapted. The spectra recorded in the near infrared region (FT-NIR) turned out to be very useful for kinetic studies of the biopulping/biomodification processes and a good method to evaluate the capabilities of fungi to modify wood surfaces within this short period.

*Corresponding author: 
                                               ++43 1 588 011 7241
++43 1 588 011 7299

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