Involvement of Lignocellulolytic Enzymes in the Decomposition of Leaf Litter in a Subtropical Forest


Corresponding Author: Xing-Jun Tian, School of Life Science, Nanjing University, Nanjing, 210093, China—Telephone number: +86-25-8368-6787; FAX number: +86-25-8359-2705; e-mail:


ABSTRACT. The involvement of ligninolytic and cellulolytic enzymes, such as laccase, lignin peroxidase, manganese peroxidase, carboxymethylcellulase (CMCase), and filter paper activity (FPA), in the decomposition process of leaf litter driven by 6 soil-inhabiting fungi imperfecti was studied under solid-state fermentations. All the tested fungi exhibited varied production profiles of lignocellulolytic enzymes and each caused different losses in total organic matter (TOM) during decomposition. Based on the results, the 6 fungi could be divided into 2 functional groups: Group 1 includes Alternaria sp., Penicillium sp., Acremonium sp., and Trichoderma sp., and Group 2 includes Pestalotiopsis sp. and Aspergillus fumigatus. Group 1, with higher CMCase and FPA activities, showed a higher decomposition rate than the fungi of Group 2 over the first 16 d, and thereafter the cellulolytic activities and decomposition rate slowed down. Group 2 showed the maximum and significantly higher CMCase and FPA activities than those of the Group 1 fungi during the later days. This, combined with the much higher laccase activity, produced a synergistic reaction that led to a much faster average mass loss rate. These results suggest that the fungi of Group 1 are efficient decomposers of cellulose and that the fungi of Group 2 are efficient decomposers of lignocellulose. During cultivation, Pestalotiopsis sp. produced an appreciable amount of laccase activity (0.56±0.09 U/ml) without the addition of inducers and caused a loss in TOM of 38.2%±3.0%, suggesting that it has high potential to be a new efficient laccase-producing fungus.