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White rot fungus may put an end to the development of Coal deposits?

Scientists feel that the development of coal deposits may have seen an end due to the evolution of the white–rot fungus. The study findings state that, it took nearly 60 million long years for the coal deposits to be formed but the fungi has the caliber to split down its organic polymer lignin. It is this polymer lignin that keeps the plant cell walls upright and rigid. This was an online study research mentioned in edition of Science on the 29th of June.

Coal deposits came about 300 million years back because of the Carboniferous period and is directly responsible for nearly 50% of U.S electricity power generation. The recordings for this date back to 2010. The spreading out of the coal deposits may have ended due to the white rot fungus fear the scientists.

“When you read about coal formation it’s usually explained in terms of physical processes, and that the rate of coal deposition just crashed at the end of the Permo-Carboniferous,” claimed the senior author David Hibbett, a biologist who is associated with the study.

“The evolution of white rot fungi could’ve been a factor – perhaps a major factor. Once you have white rot you can break down lignin, the major precursor of coal. So the evolution of white rot is a very important event in the evolution of carbon cycle.”

Hibett and his colleagues focused their investigations on a fungus group called Agaricomycetes that comprises of a wide variety of fungus species as well as white rot. The research study was done on almost 31 fungal genomes. The study incorporated using “molecular clock analyses” for tracking down of the evolution and progression of the enzymes that decompose lignin.

These analyses are the foundation of the supposition that genes insert mutations through the process of evolution at expected rates just like the clock hands have a steady and calculative pace of movement. The track of the estimation of the mutation rate of time can help analyze how the current fungal ancestry has come down from a common ancestor.

The study shows that the white rot species is the oldest fungus of Agaricomycetes lived nearly 290 million years ago and has numerous lignin-degrading enzymes. But Hibett feels that fungal fossils are a must for further studies. “Unfortunately,” he exclaimed, “fungal fossils are rare and easily overlooked.” Fungus has a very important part to play in a lot of diverse fields like medicine and agriculture. Scientist feels that white rot fungus can lead them to potential discoveries of new biocatalysts.