Home • Caecomyces churrovis A v1.0
Caecomyces churrovis. Photo credit: John Henske.
Caecomyces churrovis. Photo credit: John Henske.

Caecomyces churrovis is an isolated strain of anaerobic gut fungi from the phylum Chytridiomycota (class Neocallimastigomycetes), one of the earliest diverging branch of free-living fungi. Members of this class are obligate anaerobes, lack mitochondria (harboring hydrogenosomes instead), and reproduce asexually through the production of flagellated zoospores. Their life cycle resembles that of the members of other Chytridiomycota. Gut fungi (Neocallimastigomycetes) are members of the gut microbial community within large herbivores, such as ruminants and hindgut fermenters, where they are the primary microbes to colonize plant material and initiate its degradation. Gut fungi can be isolated from the feces of these animals and sustained in anaerobic lab cultures where they are capable of degrading biomass without pretreatment (Haitjema et al., 2014), and are of key biotechnology interest due to the biomass-degrading enzymes that they produce.

Caecomyces churrovis was isolated from the feces of a Navajo churro sheep (hence the name churrovis) at the Santa Barabara Zoo. While most genera of gut fungi form extensive rhizoidal networks, fungi within the Caecomyces genus do not possess these rhizoids. C. churrovis forms spherical sporangia with a limited rhizoidal network yet secretes a diverse set of carbohydrate active enzymes (CAZymes) for plant cell wall hydrolysis. Despite lacking an extensive rhizoidal system, C. churrovis is capable of growth on fibrous substrates, although faster growth is observed on soluble sugars.

The genome of C. churrovis will aid in the discovery of novel biomass degrading enzymes that may be engineered or heterologously expressed for the production of lignocellulosic biofuels and other value added chemicals. Furthermore, the genomes will enable future –OMICs based characterization of these organisms, including insight into their unique organelles and biomass-degrading enzyme complexes.

References:
J. K. Henske, S. P. Gilmore, D. Knop, F. J. Cunningham, J. Sexton, C. E. Smallwood, V. Shutthanandan, J. E. Evans, M. K. Theodorou, M. A. O’Malley, “Transcriptomic characterization of Caecomyces churrovis: a novel, non-rhizoid forming lignocellulolytic anaerobic fungus,” Biotechnology for Biofuels. In press.
C. H. Haitjema, K. V. Solomon, J. K. Henske, M. K. Theodorou, M. A. O’Malley. Anaerobic gut fungi: Advances in isolation, culture, and cellulolytic enzyme discovery for biofuel production. Biotechnology and Bioengineering. (2014), 111:1471–1482.