Screening for New Fungal Species Strains

Strain selection for effective explosive-degrading fungi is far from complete. The rather random screening approach used to date has shown that the ability to degrade substrates like TNT is widespread across fungal genera (Scheibner et al. 1997a,b). Most of the species studied have been from temperate regions. However, the tropical species may well have greater lignolytic capabilities as they are able to decompose far more woody litter per year than the temperate species can (Swift et al. 1976). Furthermore, many species of fungi with no lignin-degrading capability seem able to partially biodegrade TNT and other explosives by unknown metabolic routes. Understanding of the enzymology associated with these reactions would seem to be a priority. This would lead to a more rational screening approach.

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