Fungi are environmentally ubiquitous and are found in both terrestrial and aquatic environments in an amazing diversity. They have developed particular capabilities to quite unspecifically act on xenobiotic and natural compounds. Often, extracellular oxidative enzymes contribute to such degradative reactions, with laccases representing a particular group of lignin-modifying enzymes very frequently observed in fungi of different ecophysiological groups. Fungi (i) can affect the environmental fate of many pollutants in different ecosystems, (ii) represent an integral part of the complex microbial communities being active in natural environments, and (iii) offer a large potential for product-oriented research such as biotechnological solutions for environmental problems.
Research topics of the Environmental Mycology group concentrate on the degradation and biotransformation of different groups of organic compounds (environmental pollutants, natural organic substances) by ecologically diverse fungi. A particular focus addresses the attack on environmental pollutants by extracellular oxidative enzymes such as laccases found in aquatic and terrestrial fungi. The research topics cover
- mechanisms, conditions, and constrains of fungal degradation and biotransformation of environmental pollutants, with a special emphasis on micropollutants;
- fungal contributions to microbial community structures and functions, and
- the application of fungi in environmental biotechnology and for bioenergy purposes.