Screening of fungi for decomposition of lignin-derived products from Japanese cedar

J Biosci Bioeng. 2018 Nov;126(5):573-579. doi: 10.1016/j.jbiosc.2018.05.001. Epub 2018 May 28.


Lignin is an aromatic polymer that makes a network by intertwining between cellulose fibers in plant. As the lignin network retards access to carbohydrates, it is regarded as a nuisance during biomass processing. When wood is processed into paper pulp or bioethanol, lignin is produced as a by-product and utilized as fuel or a soil amendment. Recently, there has been much interest in the aromatic structure of lignin in relation to the utilization of lignocellulose and the search for petroleum substitutes. Sulfur-free pulping methods, such as soda-anthraquinone cooking, provide more opportunity for using lignin than the alternative kraft process. Our aim was to expand the availability of soda lignin from Japanese cedar, the most planted tree in Japan, by fungal degradation. We performed degradation assays to identify suitable fungi for the efficient breakdown of soda lignin from cedar. Fourteen fungi from both white-rot and leaf-litter fungi were identified using the RBBR and Sundman and Näse assays. By nuclear magnetic resonance analysis we obtained water- and/or methanol-soluble degradation products from four fungi, and the patterns indicate specific degradation mechanisms for each fungi. These results suggest that the screened fungi have more than one mechanism for degrading soda lignin from Japanese cedar.

Keywords: Coniferous tree; Japanese cedar; Leaf litter fungi; Lignin-degrading fungi; Screening; Soda lignin; White rot fungi.

MeSH terms

  • Biological Assay
  • Biomass
  • Cell Wall / metabolism
  • Cellulose / metabolism
  • Cryptomeria / chemistry*
  • Fungi / isolation & purification
  • Fungi / metabolism*
  • Lignin / chemistry
  • Lignin / metabolism*
  • Plant Leaves / metabolism
  • Plants / metabolism
  • Wood / chemistry


  • lignocellulose
  • Cellulose
  • Lignin