Pleurotus ostreatus is a type of fungus known to aid in the degradation of wood. A study was done that found that this particular fungus was able to grow in the presence of fluoranthene, “a high molecular weight polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH)” (Patel et al. 2008: 367). This is of great concern because PAHs have been shown to be potentially “genotoxic and carcinogenic” (368). PAH contamination occurs due to many human activities, primarily fossil fuel combustion and industrial processing but can also occur naturally (e.g., forest fires) (368). The mechanism by which this fungi breaks down these compounds is not completely understood, however, scientists link most of the degradation to the processing of chemicals done by extracellular enzymes (particularly the MnP and laccase enzymes). Further research could prove revolutionary by aiding in the bioremediation of areas greatly affected by PAH contamination.Edit Summary
“The biodegradation of fluoranthene, a high molecular weight polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH), was investigated in submerged culture using the wood decaying fungus isolated from forest locality in Gujarat, India. The basidiomycete fungal isolate was found to have an ability to grow on sabaroud dextrose agar containing 50 mgl−1 of each naphthalene, anthracene, acenaphthene, benzo (a) anthracene, pyrene, flouranthene, carbazole, and biphenyl…To the best of our knowledge this is the first time Pleurotus ostreatus have been reported to degrade such a high concentration of fluoranthene within much lower time period of incubation. Depletion in the residual fluoranthene in the culture medium was determined by HPLC. Attempts were made to identify the degradation product in the culture medium with the help of FT-IR, NMR, and HPTLC analysis. In the present study positive correlation between fluoranthene degradation and the ligninolytic enzyme (MnP and laccase) production is observed, thus this isolate can play an effective role for bioremediation of PAHs contaminated sites” (Patel et al. 2008: 367).