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Review

The Anaerobic Fungi: Challenges and Opportunities for Industrial Lignocellulosic Biofuel Production

1
Department of Biology, University of York, York YO10 5DD, UK
2
Department of Agriculture and the Environment, Harper Adams University, Newport TF10 8NB, UK
3
Department of Chemical Engineering, University of California, Santa Barbara, CA 93106, USA
*
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Sabine Marie Podmirseg
Microorganisms 2021, 9(4), 694; https://doi.org/10.3390/microorganisms9040694
Received: 17 February 2021 / Revised: 12 March 2021 / Accepted: 18 March 2021 / Published: 27 March 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Unleashing the Hidden Potential of Anaerobic Fungi)
Lignocellulose is a promising feedstock for biofuel production as a renewable, carbohydrate-rich and globally abundant source of biomass. However, challenges faced include environmental and/or financial costs associated with typical lignocellulose pretreatments needed to overcome the natural recalcitrance of the material before conversion to biofuel. Anaerobic fungi are a group of underexplored microorganisms belonging to the early diverging phylum Neocallimastigomycota and are native to the intricately evolved digestive system of mammalian herbivores. Anaerobic fungi have promising potential for application in biofuel production processes due to the combination of their highly effective ability to hydrolyse lignocellulose and capability to convert this substrate to H2 and ethanol. Furthermore, they can produce volatile fatty acid precursors for subsequent biological conversion to H2 or CH4 by other microorganisms. The complex biological characteristics of their natural habitat are described, and these features are contextualised towards the development of suitable industrial systems for in vitro growth. Moreover, progress towards achieving that goal is reviewed in terms of process and genetic engineering. In addition, emerging opportunities are presented for the use of anaerobic fungi for lignocellulose pretreatment; dark fermentation; bioethanol production; and the potential for integration with methanogenesis, microbial electrolysis cells and photofermentation. View Full-Text
Keywords: anaerobic fungi; dark fermentation; lignocellulose; bioethanol; biohydrogen; biofuel; pretreatment; photofermentation; microbial electrolysis cell; methanogenesis anaerobic fungi; dark fermentation; lignocellulose; bioethanol; biohydrogen; biofuel; pretreatment; photofermentation; microbial electrolysis cell; methanogenesis
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MDPI and ACS Style

Saye, L.M.G.; Navaratna, T.A.; Chong, J.P.J.; O’Malley, M.A.; Theodorou, M.K.; Reilly, M. The Anaerobic Fungi: Challenges and Opportunities for Industrial Lignocellulosic Biofuel Production. Microorganisms 2021, 9, 694. https://doi.org/10.3390/microorganisms9040694

AMA Style

Saye LMG, Navaratna TA, Chong JPJ, O’Malley MA, Theodorou MK, Reilly M. The Anaerobic Fungi: Challenges and Opportunities for Industrial Lignocellulosic Biofuel Production. Microorganisms. 2021; 9(4):694. https://doi.org/10.3390/microorganisms9040694

Chicago/Turabian Style

Saye, Luke M.G., Tejas A. Navaratna, James P.J. Chong, Michelle A. O’Malley, Michael K. Theodorou, and Matthew Reilly. 2021. "The Anaerobic Fungi: Challenges and Opportunities for Industrial Lignocellulosic Biofuel Production" Microorganisms 9, no. 4: 694. https://doi.org/10.3390/microorganisms9040694

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