Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Southeast Biology professors published in Science

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KRCU) - Two biology professors at Southeast Missouri State University are co-authors of a new article that will appear in this month’s edition of Science.

Allen Gathman and Walt Lilly contributed to the study by figuring out what genes in the genome code for proteases enzymes in a fungus called Serpula lacrymans.

The fungus is common in Europe, where it is causes millions of dollars in damage through wood rot in buildings.

Allen Gathman says the study is important for controlling the fungus and it opens the door for practical applications.

"By looking at the genes, if you can figure out what the enzymes are that are responsible for degrading cellulose ... degrading the important structural components of the wood ... then you might be able to come up with ways to control or reduce the ability of the fungus to produce those enzymes," Gathman said. "You might come up with ways to control them."

Walt Lilly says that the fungus is unique because it can transport materials for several meters across its body.

"The thing is, if you can figure out a way to control that transport, if you can figure out a way to control the growth of the organism, you can figure out a way to stop the decay that it causes," Lilly said.

Due to its wood-decaying properties, the fungus could be useful in producing biofuels.

Lilly and Gathman are two of the article’s 48 authors.

Jacob McCleland, KRCU


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