A proposed stepwise screening framework for the selection of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH)-degrading white rot fungi

  • Aslan Hwanhwi Lee
  • Hanbyul Lee
  • Young Mok Heo
  • Young Woon Lim
  • Chang-Mu Kim
  • Gyu-Hyeok Kim
  • Wonjae Chang
  • Jae-Jin KimEmail author
Research Paper


This study suggests a simple three-step screening protocol for the selection of white rot fungi (WRF) capable of degrading polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), which combines easily applicable bioassay techniques, and verifies that protocol by evaluating the PAH degradation activity, ligninolytic enzyme secretion, and relevant gene expressions of the selected PAH-degraders. Using 120 fungal strains, a sequence of bioassay techniques was applied: Bavendamm’s reaction (Step 1), remazol brilliant blue R (RBBR) decolorization (Step 2); assays for tolerance to four mixed PAHs—phenanthrene, anthracene, fluoranthene, and pyrene (Step 3). This stepwise protocol selected 14 PAH-degrading WRF, including Microporus vernicipes, Peniophora incarnata, Perenniporia subacida, Phanerochaete sordida, Phlebia acerina, and Phlebia radiata. Of these, P. incarnata exhibited the highest PAH degradative activity, ranging from 40 to > 90%, which was related to the time-variable secretions of three extracellular ligninolytic enzymes: laccase, manganese-dependent peroxidase (MnP) and lignin peroxidase (LiP). Laccase and MnP production by P. incarnata tended to be greater in the early stages of PAH degradation, whereas its LiP production became intensified with decreasing laccase and MnP production. Pilc1 and pimp1 genes encoding laccase and MnP were expressed, indicating the occurrence of extracellular enzyme-driven biodegradation of PAH by the fungal strains.


White rot fungi Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons Screening Biodegradation Ligninolytic enzyme Gene expression 



This work was supported by the Ministry of Education through the Basic Science Research Program [2016R1A6A3A03010744] of the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF); and was supported the survey and excavation of Korean indigenous species of the National Institute of Biological Resources [NIBR 201701104] under the Ministry of Environment, Republic of Korea; Dr. Wonjae Chang’s grants from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada [NSERC; RGPIN 05902-2014]; and the Canada Foundation for Innovation [CFI; JELF#33982].

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

We have no conflict of interest to declare.

Supplementary material

449_2019_2272_MOESM1_ESM.docx (16 kb)
Supplementary file1 (DOCX 16 kb)


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of Environmental Science and Ecological EngineeringKorea UniversitySeoulRepublic of Korea
  2. 2.Department of Civil, Geological and Environmental EngineeringUniversity of SaskatchewanSaskatoonCanada
  3. 3.School of Earth and Environmental Sciences and Research Institute of OceanographySeoul National UniversitySeoulRepublic of Korea
  4. 4.School of Biological Sciences and Institute of MicrobiologySeoul National UniversitySeoulRepublic of Korea
  5. 5.Microorganism Resources DivisionNational Institute of Biological ResourcesIncheonRepublic of Korea

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