Evaluating the mycostimulation potential of select carbon amendments for the degradation of a model PAH by an ascomycete strain enriched from a superfund site.


Although ecological flexibility has been well documented in fungi, it remains unclear how this flexibility can be exploited for pollutant degradation, especially in the Ascomycota phylum. In this work, we assess three mycostimulation amendments for their ability to induce degradation in Trichoderma harzanium, a model fungus previously isolated from a Superfund site contaminated with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. The amendments used in the present study were selected based on the documented ecological roles of ascomycetes. Chitin was selected to simulate the parasitic ecological role while cellulose and wood were selected to mimic bulk soil and wood saprobic conditions, respectively. Each amendment was tested in liquid basal medium in 0.1 and 1% (w/v) suspensions. Both chitin and cellulose amendments were shown to promote anthracene degradation in T. harzanium with the 0.1% chitin amendment resulting in over 90% removal of anthracene. None of the targets monitored for gene expression were found to be upregulated suggesting alternate pathways may be used in T. harzanium. Overall, our data suggest that mycostimulation amendments can be improved by understanding the ecological roles of indigenous fungi. However, further research is needed to better estimate specific amendment requirements for a broader group of target fungi and follow up studies are needed to determine whether the trends observed herein translate to more realistic soil systems.