Diversity of ascomycete laccase sequences and contributions of bacteria and ascomycetous fungi to lignocellulose degradation in a southeastern U.S. salt marsh
Lyons Moreta, Justine Isabelle
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In the first part of this study, we used molecular tools to create a database of protein sequences for laccase genes of salt marsh ascomycetes. Laccase is one of the enzymes shown to be involved in fungally-mediated lignin degradation. We then used this database to identify laccase sequences in the natural decomposer community on blades of Spartina alterniflora in two stages of decomposition. The sequences we collected contribute significantly to the relatively limited database of ascomycete sequences that currently exists. The second part of this study addressed the relative activity levels of bacterial and fungal decomposers by measuring rates of lignocellulose degradation in a simple microcosm system. The results of this study provide a tool for future evaluation of the effects of genetic manipulations on ecologically relevant decomposer organisms, including studies of gene function and degradative efficiency and interactions between bacterial and fungal decomposers.