Endoglucanase-producing fungi isolated from Cape Evans historic expedition hut on Ross Island, Antarctica

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SummaryEarly explorers of Antarctica's Heroic Era erected wooden buildings and brought large quantities of supplies to survive in Antarctica. The introduction of wood and other organic materials provided nutrient sources for fungi that were indigenous to Antarctica or were brought in with the materials and adapted to the harsh conditions. Seventy-two isolates of filamentous fungi were cultured on selective media from interior structural wood of the Cape Evans historic hut and 27 of these screened positive for the ability to degrade carboxymethyl cellulose (CMC). Four non-CMC-degrading isolates were added to a group of 14 CMC-degrading isolates for further study, and endo-1, 4-β-glucanase activity was demonstrated in the extracellular supernatant from all of these 18 isolates when grown at 4°C, and also when they were grown at 15°C. Isolates of Penicillium roquefortii and Cadophora malorum showed preference for growth at 15°C rather than 25°C or 4°C indicating psychrotrophic characteristics. These results demonstrate that cellulolytic filamentous fungi found in Antarctica are capable of growth at cold temperatures and possess the ability to produce extracellular endo-1, 4-β-glucanase when cultured at cold and temperate temperatures.

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