Home • Pycnoporus puniceus CIRM-BRFM 1868 v1.0
Picture from Cony Decok, Université Catholique de Louvain, Belgium
Picture from Cony Decok, Université Catholique de Louvain, Belgium

The genus Pycnoporus is a cosmopolitan group of white-rot fungi from the order Polyporales, the major group of wood decayers in temperate and tropical forests. As such, Polyporales have a pivotal role in the global carbon cycle; lignocellulose is the principal carbon storage on the emerged land and lignin degradation by white-rot fungi provides access to the polysaccharides that can thereby be used as a source of carbon or energy by other microorganisms.

Because they are able to totally degrade lignin from wood, white-rot filamentous fungi have a high potential for biotechnological processes, particularly for lignocellulosic feedstock biorefinery applications. Lignocellulose is a high potential renewable resource for the production of biofuels and chemicals, including high-value chemicals. Importantly, diverse raw materials (dedicated crops, agricultural wastes, silviculture wastes, etc.) that do not compete with food production could be processed through fungi-inspired biotechnological routes despite their high recalcitrance to biotransformation.

Pycnoporus emerged in the early 1990s as an extraordinary resource to identify novel enzymes that contribute to efficient biomass degradation or transformation and became a genus of choice for biotechnological applications. Pycnoporus species were first highlighted for their original metabolic pathways involved in the functionalization of plant cell wall aromatic compounds to yield high value molecules, e.g. aromas and antioxidants, and for their potential to produce enzymes of industrial interest, such as hydrolases and oxidases. Oxidases in particular are of interest for the bioconversion of agricultural by-products and raw plant materials into valuable products, for biopulping and biobleaching of paper pulp and for the biodegradation of organopollutants, xenobiotics and industrial contaminants. One obviously useful feature of the genus Pycnoporus is its ability to overproduce high redox potential laccases — multi-copper extracellular phenoloxidases — as the predominant ligninolytic enzyme.

Pycnoporus is a genus closely related to Trametes, being morphologically similar in all characters except for the conspicuous bright reddish-orange color of the basidiocarp. Pycnoporus puniceus (Fr.) Ryvarden, Norw. Jl Bot. 19: 236 (1972) [Basionyme; Trametes punicea Fr., Nova Acta R. Soc. Sci. ups, Ser. III, vol.1:98 1(1): 98, 1851] is close to P. sanguineus but differs by a thick fruit-body, larger and irregular pores (1-3 mm), and a cinnabar pileus becoming first brownish and finally blackish. Firstly described from Paleotropical area, Pycnoporus puniceus has since been found in Neotropics. It develops mainly on dead logs, in sun-exposed clearings. The extremophile features of P. puniceus and the several DNA insertions on ITS sequences make this species particularly interesting. Thus, complete genome studies of Pycnoporus puniceus will provide key information for the phylogeny studies of Trametes and related genera. In addition, the sequence information will enable a comparison with other white-rotters, and will deepen our understanding of the functional diversity among Polyporales, i.e. enzymatic capabilities linked to plant cell wall modifications.