Re-routing of Sugar Catabolism Provides a Better Insight Into Fungal Flexibility in Using Plant Biomass-Derived Monomers as Substrates

Tania Chroumpi, Mao Peng, Lye Meng Markillie, Hugh D Mitchell, Carrie D Nicora, Chelsea M Hutchinson, Vanessa Paurus, Nikola Tolic, Chaevien S Clendinen, Galya Orr, Scott E Baker, Miia R Mäkelä, Ronald P de Vries

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The filamentous ascomycete Aspergillus niger has received increasing interest as a cell factory, being able to efficiently degrade plant cell wall polysaccharides as well as having an extensive metabolism to convert the released monosaccharides into value added compounds. The pentoses D-xylose and L-arabinose are the most abundant monosaccharides in plant biomass after the hexose D-glucose, being major constituents of xylan, pectin and xyloglucan. In this study, the influence of selected pentose catabolic pathway (PCP) deletion strains on growth on plant biomass and re-routing of sugar catabolism was addressed to gain a better understanding of the flexibility of this fungus in using plant biomass-derived monomers. The transcriptome, metabolome and proteome response of three PCP mutant strains, ΔlarAΔxyrAΔxyrB, ΔladAΔxdhAΔsdhA and ΔxkiA, grown on wheat bran (WB) and sugar beet pulp (SBP), was evaluated. Our results showed that despite the absolute impact of these PCP mutations on pure pentose sugars, they are not as critical for growth of A. niger on more complex biomass substrates, such as WB and SBP. However, significant phenotypic variation was observed between the two biomass substrates, but also between the different PCP mutants. This shows that the high sugar heterogeneity of these substrates in combination with the high complexity and adaptability of the fungal sugar metabolism allow for activation of alternative strategies to support growth.

Original languageEnglish
Article number644216
Pages (from-to)1-14
JournalFrontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • lignocellulosic substrates
  • pentose catabolic pathway
  • D-galacturonic acid catabolic pathway
  • L-rhamnose catabolic pathway
  • wheat bran
  • sugar beet pulp
  • CAZymes
  • Aspergillus niger


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