Professors Co-Author Article to be Published in Science
CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., July 15, 2011 -- Two Southeast Missouri State University biology professors have co-authored an article to be published in a forthcoming edition of one of the world’s most influential science journals. The article focuses on a fungus causing dry rot of buildings.
Dr. Allen Gathman and Dr. Walt Lilly are part of a world-wide consortium of scientists who co-authored an article now appearing online in “Science Express” and in an upcoming edition of Science, published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS,) the world's largest general scientific organization. The article describes the genome of the mushroom-producing basidiomycete fungus Serpula lacrymans. Serpula is an economically important fungus that causes dry-rot of buildings, Lilly said.
“In fact, it now lives almost exclusively on wood in buildings, rather than its original habitat of forest floor,” he said. “The fungus causes considerable damage to buildings, particularly in Europe.”
Research on this fungus is important for its potential to control damage to property by the organism, Gathman said. Serpula’s extensive complement of enzymes that can degrade plant material also makes it a good candidate for use in biofuel production, he added.
The article is titled “The Plant Cell Wall Decomposing Machinery Underlies the Functional Diversity of Forest Fungi.” “Science” is the weekly journal of the AAAS.
The professors’ contribution to the paper is an outcome of their ongoing research on the biochemistry and molecular biology of proteases – enzymes that degrade proteins – in fungi.
“We studied and annotated the protease genes in Serpula, as we have for other mushroom-producing fungi,” Gathman said. “By comparing the proteases produced by multiple species, we hope to understand how different fungi make use of a variety of food sources, including decaying wood, leaf litter, healthy plant tissue, and even human tissues in the case of disease-causing fungi.”
Science has the largest paid circulation of any peer-reviewed, general science journal in the world, with an estimated total readership of one million. Science is an editorially independent, weekly general science journal whose articles consistently rank among the world’s most often cited research reports, as monitored by the Institute for Scientific Information.
Last year, fungal genetic research by Gathman and Lilly was featured on the cover of the “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.” The article, titled “Genome Evolution in Mushrooms,” was the culmination of six years of work on the genome of the mushroom Coprinopsis cinerea. In addition, their research on the genome of another wood-decaying fungus, Schizophyllum commune, was published last year in “Nature Biotechnology” and was featured in “R&D” magazine.