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Lignocellulose-Degrading Thermophilic Fungi and Their Prospects in Natural Rubber Extraction from Plants

  • Shomaila Sikandar
  • Imran Afzal
  • Naeem Ali
  • Katrina Cornish
Chapter

Abstract

Fungi have the ability to grow in diverse habitats and over a wide temperature range. Those that can grow between 45 °C and 55 °C are termed “thermophiles.” Thermophilic fungi were previously discovered in the natural self-heating process of organic debris, and their examples include Mucor pusillus, Thermomyces lanuginosus, Thermoascus aurantiacus, and Thermoidium sulfureum. Thermophilic fungi produce many thermostable enzymes, called thermozymes that are of biotechnological importance, particularly for degradation of lignocellulosic biomass to make value-added biomaterials. These fungi have the ability to grow, at high temperatures, on complex lignocellulosic biomass by secreting different thermozymes like cellulases, xylanases, and pectinases to hydrolyze complex plant polymers. Such extreme fungi naturally adapt to the high temperatures that are needed to degrade plant biomass, as their thermostable proteins are more resistant to proteolysis and chemical denaturation than those of mesophilic fungi. The thermophilic fungus T. lanuginosus STm, and its hydrolytic thermozymes, can efficiently degrade root biomass of the rubber plant (Taraxacum kok-saghyz), enhancing the extraction of natural rubber. Thermophilic fungi, typically lignocellulose degrading, may have industrial potential in applications that require removal or breakdown of lignocellulose to release other value-added secondary products, not just rubber. This chapter reviews the function and utility of thermophilic enzymes, and highlights, for the first time, the potential application of lignocellulose-degrading thermophilic fungi and their thermozymes in the extraction of natural rubber.

Keywords

Thermozymes Cellulases Xylanases Pectinases Natural rubber 

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Biology, Department of BiologyLahore Garrison UniversityLahorePakistan
  2. 2.Faculty of Biological Sciences, Department of MicrobiologyQuaid-i-Azam UniversityIslamabadPakistan
  3. 3.Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering, Ohio Agricultural Research and Development CenterThe Ohio State UniversityWoosterUSA
  4. 4.Horticulture and Crop Science, Ohio Agricultural Research and Development CenterThe Ohio State UniversityWoosterUSA

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