AbstractWhite and brown rot fungi efficiently deconstruct lignocellulose in wood, Earth’s largest pool of aboveground biotic carbon and an important natural resource. Despite its vital importance, little is known about the metabolomic signatures among fungal species and nutritional modes (rot types). In this study, we used GC-MS metabolomics in solid wood substrates (in planta) to compare brown rot fungi (Rhodonia placenta and Gloeophylum trabeum) and white rot fungi (Trametes versicolor and Pleurotus ostreatus) at two decay stages (earlier and later), finding identifiable patterns for brown rot fungi at later decay stages. These patterns occurred in highly reducing environments that were not observed in white rot fungi. Metabolomes measured among the two white rot fungi were notably different, but we found a potential biomarker compound, galactitol, that was characteristic to white rot taxa. In addition, we found that white rot fungi were more efficient at catabolizing phenolic compounds that were originally present in wood. Collectively, white rot fungi were characterized by measured sugar release relative to higher carbohydrate solubilization by brown rot fungi, a distinction in soluble sugar availability that might shape success in the face of “cheater” competitors. This need to protect excess free sugars may explain the differentially high brown rot fungal production of pyranones and furanones, likely linked to an expansion of polyketide synthase genes.
Published: January 13, 2023