Multicopper oxidases (MCO) catalyze the biological oxidation of various aromatic substrates and have been identified in plants, insects, bacteria, and wood rotting fungi. In nature, they are involved in biodegradation of biopolymers such as lignin and humic compounds, but have also been tested for various industrial applications. In fungi, MCOs have been shown to play important roles during their life cycles, such as in fruiting body formation, pigment formation and pathogenicity. Coprophilous fungi, which grow on the dung of herbivores, appear to encode an unexpectedly high number of enzymes capable of at least partly degrading lignin. This study compared the MCO-coding capacity of the coprophilous filamentous ascomycetes Podospora anserina and Sordaria macrospora with closely related non-coprophilous members of the order Sordariales. An increase of MCO genes in coprophilic members of the Sordariales most probably occurred by gene duplication and horizontal gene transfer events.
Keywords: Laccase, coprophilous fungi, Sordariales, Sordaria macrospora, Podospora anserina, Neurospora crassa, Chaetomium globosum, gene duplication, lignin, pathogenicity
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