Lytic xylan oxidases from wood-decay fungi unlock biomass degradation

Nat Chem Biol. 2018 Mar;14(3):306-310. doi: 10.1038/nchembio.2558. Epub 2018 Jan 29.


Wood biomass is the most abundant feedstock envisioned for the development of modern biorefineries. However, the cost-effective conversion of this form of biomass into commodity products is limited by its resistance to enzymatic degradation. Here we describe a new family of fungal lytic polysaccharide monooxygenases (LPMOs) prevalent among white-rot and brown-rot basidiomycetes that is active on xylans-a recalcitrant polysaccharide abundant in wood biomass. Two AA14 LPMO members from the white-rot fungus Pycnoporus coccineus substantially increase the efficiency of wood saccharification through oxidative cleavage of highly refractory xylan-coated cellulose fibers. The discovery of this unique enzyme activity advances our knowledge on the degradation of woody biomass in nature and offers an innovative solution for improving enzyme cocktails for biorefinery applications.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Basidiomycota / enzymology*
  • Biodegradation, Environmental
  • Biomass*
  • Biotechnology / economics
  • Biotechnology / methods
  • Cellulose / chemistry
  • Computational Biology
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Crystallography, X-Ray
  • Electron Spin Resonance Spectroscopy
  • Genomics
  • Glycosylation
  • Mixed Function Oxygenases / chemistry*
  • Oxygen / chemistry
  • Phylogeny
  • Polysaccharides / chemistry*
  • Substrate Specificity
  • Transcriptome
  • Wood / microbiology*
  • Xylans / chemistry


  • Polysaccharides
  • Xylans
  • Cellulose
  • Mixed Function Oxygenases
  • Oxygen