Cellulose decomposition mechanisms of mushroom forming fungi
Cellulose represents a tremendous carbon source for many organisms and a valuable resource. Significant progress has been made in the enzymatic decomposition of cellulose, while the role of non-enzymatic mechanisms, remains poorly understood. Non-enzymatic decomposition of carbohydrates involves the secretion of fungal secondary metabolites, iron reduction, hydrogen peroxide production and the generation of hydroxyl radicals. The action of radicals is believed to participate in the deconstruction of the crystalline structure of cellulose, making it susceptible to depolymerization by endoglucanases. Using Raman spectroscopy and X-ray scattering and in collaboration with Physical Chemistry we are developing new ways to look into the sequence of events that take place during cellulose decomposition by the action of enzymatic and non-enzymatic mechanisms.