Significant levels of extracellular reactive oxygen species produced by brown rot basidiomycetes on cellulose

FEBS Lett. 2002 Nov 20;531(3):483-8. doi: 10.1016/s0014-5793(02)03589-5.


It is often proposed that brown rot basidiomycetes use extracellular reactive oxygen species (ROS) to accomplish the initial depolymerization of cellulose in wood, but little evidence has been presented to show that the fungi produce these oxidants in physiologically relevant quantities. We used [(14)C]phenethyl polyacrylate as a radical trap to estimate extracellular ROS production by two brown rot fungi, Gloeophyllum trabeum and Postia placenta, that were degrading cellulose. Both fungi oxidized aromatic rings on the trap to give monohydroxylated and more polar products in significant yields. All of the cultures contained 2,5-dimethoxyhydroquinone, a fungal metabolite that has been shown to drive Fenton chemistry in vitro. These results show that extracellular ROS occur at significant levels in cellulose colonized by brown rot fungi, and suggest that hydroquinone-driven ROS production may contribute to decay by diverse brown rot species.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Basidiomycota / metabolism*
  • Cellulose / chemistry
  • Cellulose / metabolism*
  • Hydrolysis
  • Molecular Weight
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism*


  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • Cellulose