BMB_Research Paper - 1 Literature Review Brown Rot Fungi...

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Literature Review Brown Rot Fungi Fungi are one of the most important organisms in any given habitat. They provide the vital link between dead organic materials and how it is recycled into new living organic material. Fungi are also key symbiotes for many plants as they harvest much needed nutrients and pass them along to the plants root systems. Fungi have also presented us ways to treat diseases, food for our tables and various other tasks that most people take for granted. Fungi are a double edged sword however, even as some help to cure diseases others can cause disease which are difficult to treat. Since the cellular structure of fungi is similar to that of other plants and animals it is difficult to find novel ways to cause damage the fungal cells without destroying the cells that are trying to be saved. Brown rot fungi are a unique set of fungi that can decay wood products without high levels of available moister. These fungi accomplish this by moving water through their mycelial extensions from a location of higher water availability to the location of their decay. This property wasn’t a large concern for many years, however, in light of the last 30 years of increasing desire for energy efficiency buildings have been made to seal in heat which in turn doesn’t allow for proper air exchange which leads to damps areas of a building staying that way which in turns leads to the perfect place for fungi to take hold and start attacking a building. Due to this unique ability of these fungi they have become a serious problem in the maintenance of homes, especially in Europe and somewhat in North America (1). Brown rot fungi can use both the cellulous and hemicellulous its food source by breaking them down to their basic sugars from which they are formed. 1
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It is thought that Brown rot fungi break down the components of wood using oxalate. The exact mechanism of this process isn’t confirmed, but it though to work by a Fenton type reaction. A Fenton reaction works by oxidizing ferrous iron (Fe II ) to ferric iron (Fe III ) with hydrogen peroxide (H 2 O 2 ). Once this reaction is complete, the products include water and hydroxyl radicals. It is thought that these radicals then proceed to attack the lignin portion of the wood which in turn creates more radicals that proceed to attack the wood sugars and break them down into their simpler components that the fungi can utilize (2). Oxalate is thought to be released from the fungi to chelate these iron compounds to prevent an overproduction of radicals which could also damage the fungi itself. Oxalate is a diffusible molecule, this property is what allows the fungi to secrete oxalate to both protect and assist itself. In a paper by M. Shimada et al. they review how both brown rot and white rot
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This note was uploaded on 04/18/2008 for the course BMB 491 taught by Professor Jellison during the Spring '08 term at University of Maine Orono .

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BMB_Research Paper - 1 Literature Review Brown Rot Fungi...

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