Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Semester of Degree Completion


Thesis Director

Thomas Canam


Lignocellulosic biomass is a valuable feedstock for the production of liquid biofuels. However, liquid biofuel production from lignocellulose is economically challenging due to the difficulties associated with separating the cellulosic sugars from lignin. In addition, the current thermochemical methods to deconstruct lignocellulose typically involve hazardous chemicals that can negatively impact the environment. Recent studies have demonstrated the efficacy of white-rot fungi as alternative pretreatment agents that can lower the costs of lignocellulose deconstruction and reduce negative impacts on the environment. However, understanding of the biochemical mechanisms of lignocellulose breakdown used by these fungi is limited, particularly with respect to the response of these fungi to different feedstocks. To that end, this thesis describes the use of RNA-Seq technology to explore the transcriptome of the model white-rot fungus, Phanerochaete chrysosporium, after five weeks of growth on a hardwood (maple) and an energy grass (miscanthus). The results suggest that the fungus responds uniquely to maple and miscanthus, despite both substrates having common lignocellulosic features. Among the transcripts that were differentially regulated between miscanthus and maple include enzymes known to be involved in biomass deconstruction, such as manganese peroxidase and glycoside hydrolase. However, there were also several transcripts that were highly expressed by the fungus when growing on miscanthus compared to maple (and vice versa) that had unknown functions. These substrate-specific transcripts may have important roles in biomass breakdown, which could be used industrially to improve the efficacy of lignocellulose deconstruction. However, future studies are necessary to elucidate the function of these unknown proteins.