Aureobasidium pullulans (previously known as A. pullulans var. pullulans)
A. pullulans can produce a variety of enzymes that can be used in the degradation/modification of lignocellulose substrates. The A. pullulans genome data will facilitate our research work (and similar efforts of other groups) with a goal to identify genes encoding various enzymes that could be involved in degradation of lignocellulose substrates. The final aim of these efforts is the construction of an economically feasible and low-environmental-impact technology for the production of biofuels from lignocellulose substrates. The capability of A. pullulans to produce several other biotechnologically interesting enzymes and metabolites indicates additional potential uses of the fungus or its genes.
Understanding and management of global climate change consequences
The discovery of great quantities of A. pullulans in Arctic glaciers was a surprise to the microbiological community researching polar environments. Just as unusual was the description of a novel variety A. pullulans var. subglaciale that has so far been isolated exclusively from the glacial environments. The data from numerous independent studies indicate that extreme environments such as the quickly disappearing glacial habitats may represent a large repository and generator of microbial diversity as well as an important sink of carbon that is now releasing in the outer environments. The climate changes are also involved in the increasing drought frequency and the need for irrigation of agricultural land, which often leads to salinization of the soil. Both drought and salinization are major agricultural problems that substantially decrease the World food production. The genes from the halotolerant A. pullulans will provide new targets for the construction of genetically modified crops with increased salt- and drought-tolerance, which could be cultivated on the now useless former agricultural land.
Ionising radiation shielding/utilization
Besides its remarkable ability to tolerate a variety of other stress factors, A. pullulans can grow in environments with increased levels of ionising radiation such as the damaged Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant. Its cell walls contain the pigment melanin that shields them from the harmful effects of the radiation and can possibly even convert it into a utilizable form of energy. The available genome of A. pullulans will benefit the research groups that study fungi from the radioactively contaminated environments and facilitate in their development of novel technologies used for working with ionizing radiation.
Cultures of A. pullulans grows in rapidly expanding, pinkish colonies that sometimes develop radial dark brown sectors due to the local presence of thick-walled, melanised hyphae. In most cases its habitat is characterized by low water activity due to the presence of sugars or by strong osmotic fluctuations. It has a pan-global distribution. This variety is more halotolerant than the other three.
Three other Aureobasidium species have been sequenced,
in addition to A. pullulans:
Gostincar C, Ohm RA, Kogej T, Sonjak S, Turk M, Zajc J, Zalar P, Grube M, Sun H, Han J, Sharma A, Chiniquy J, Ngan CY, Lipzen A, Barry K, Grigoriev IV, Gunde-Cimerman N. Genome sequencing of four Aureobasidium pullulans varieties: biotechnological potential, stress tolerance, and description of new species. BMC Genomics 2014 15:549.