The breakdown of plant cell biomass by fungi

  • Elizabeth A. Whitehead

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


Three species of fungi Sporotrichum thermophile, Botrytis cinerea and Trichoderma viride were assessed for their ability to utilize a variety of plant cell substrates (methanol extracted), Catharanthus roseus, Daucus carota, re-autoclaved C. roseus, re-autoclaved D. carota) which preliminary studies had indicated contained the necessary nutrients for fungal growth. Incubated in a suitable manner all three fungal species were able to grow on C. roseus and D. carota plant cell biomass in addition to material which had undergone methanol extraction or a re-autoclaving process to remove soluble components. Fungal biomass yields were markedly influenced by substrate, with each fungal species demonstrating a preference for particular plant cell material. Incubation conditions i.e. static or shaken and temperature also proved important. Release of glucose (i.e. values higher than Day 0) promoted by fungal breakdown of plant cell biomass was only noted with methanol extracted, re-autoclaved C. roseus and re-autoclaved D. carota material. A re-autoclaved substrate was also generally associated with high fungal C1, Cx, B-glucosidase and endo-polygalacturonase activity. In addition for each enzyme highest values were usually obtained from a particular fungal species. Buffering cultures at pH 3 or 5 further influenced enzyme activity, however in a majority of cases when flasks were unbuffered and the pH rose naturally to alkaline values higher enzyme activity was recorded. Likewise Tween 80 addition had only a limited beneficial effect. Finally filtrates containing glucose produced both from the re-autoclaving process and through fungal activity on plant cell biomass were utilized for Fusarium oxysporum, Saccharomyces cerevisiae and C. roseus plant cell culture. Although reasonable fungal biomass was obtained the use of such filtrates proved unsuitable for plant cell growth.
Date of Award1987
Original languageEnglish


  • breakdown
  • plant cell biomass
  • fungi

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