Research Highlight

Fungus gene tweak to make more enzymes

doi:10.1038/nindia.2018.13 Published online 30 January 2018

Researchers have tweaked the genome of a fungus to make it produce double the amount of industrially-important cellulolytic enzymes, or enzymes that break down cellulose into simple sugars. Such cellulose breaking enzymes derived from microbes are used extensively in the biofuel production industry, and are currently obtained from one industrial workhorse fungus.

The scientists from Delhi's International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB) had erlier found that the fungus Penicillium funiculosum produces five times more active cellulolytic enzymes GH7 cellobiohydrolases (CBH1) than Trichoderma reesei, most widely used in industrial enzyme cocktails. Syed Shams Yazdani and his group from ICGEB’s microbial engineering department have now altered the genome of P. funiculosum to double the production of enzymes by disrupting a 'catabolite repressor' called Mig1.

Disruption of this repressor increases the growth rate, hyphal branching, and cellulase expression in fungus, says Yazdani, the lead research scientist and coordinator of the DBT-ICGEB Centre for Advanced Bioenergy Research (DICABeR).

The team says this finding could be important for India's plans to set-up twelve 2G-ethanol biorefineries across the country using cellulosic feedstock.


1. Randhawa, A. et al. Disruption of zinc finger DNA binding domain in catabolite repressor Mig1 increases growth rate, hyphal branching, and cellulase expression in hypercellulolytic fungus Penicillium funiculosum NCIM1228. Biotechnol. Biofuels. 11 (2018) doi: 10.1186/s13068-018-1011-5