Home • Neocallimastix lanati v1.0
Neocallimastix lanati growing in M2 media using cellobiose as a
carbon source. Image by St. Elmo Wilken.
Neocallimastix lanati growing in M2 media using cellobiose as a carbon source. Image by St. Elmo Wilken.

Neocallimastix lanati is an obligately anaerobic filamentous gut fungus isolated from the fecal matter of a Navajo Churro sheep at the Santa Barbara Zoo. This fungus belongs to the Neocallimastigomycetes class. This class of fungi are typically found in the rumen of herbivores where they secrete a cocktail of highly efficient lignocellulose degrading enzymes that play an integral role in the digestive process of the host animal. These fungi are biotechnologically important due to the diverse, and vast, collection of carbohydrate active enzymes encoded by their genomes (Solomon et al., 2016; Haitjema et al., 2017; Seppälä et al., 2017). Additionally, these fungi also produce a variety of secondary metabolites that may be of biomedical relevance (Podolsky et al., 2019). While these fungi promise to be of great biotechnological importance, they are still classified as non-model organisms because they are understudied, genetically intractable, sensitive to culturing conditions and relatively slow growing (on the order of 13.8 hours for biomass to double in size).

However, Neocallimastix lanati represents an exciting opportunity to better understand these organisms. Unlike most of the other fungi in this clade, it can grow in completely defined media. Moreover, its growth rate in this chemically sparse, defined media formulation matches the rate at which the other members of the clade grow in complex, rumen fluid containing, media. Finally, the first genome-scale metabolic model of a Neocallimastigomycetes fungus is based on the genome and growth habit of this fungus. This metabolic model is a platform for systematically probing and cataloging information, and will hopefully contribute to unlocking the promise of these fungi.  

References:

Haitjema, C. H. et al. (2017) ‘A parts list for fungal cellulosomes revealed by comparative genomics’, Nature Microbiology. Nature Publishing Group, 2(May), pp. 1–8. doi: 10.1038/nmicrobiol.2017.87.

Podolsky, I. et al. (2019) ‘Harnessing Nature’s Anaerobes for Biotechnology and Bioprocessing.’, Annual Review of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering. doi: https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-chembioeng-060718-030340.

Seppälä, S. et al. (2017) ‘The importance of sourcing enzymes from non-conventional fungi for metabolic engineering and biomass breakdown’, Metabolic Engineering, pp. 45–59. doi: 10.1016/j.ymben.2017.09.008.

Solomon, K. V et al. (2016) ‘Early-branching gut fungi possess a large, comprehensive array of biomass-degrading enzymes’, Science, 351(6278), pp. 1192–1196. doi: 10.1126/science.aad1431.