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Turning Inside Out: Filamentous Fungal Secretion and Its Applications in Biotechnology, Agriculture, and the Clinic

Cairns, Timothy C.; Zheng, Xiaomei; Zheng, Ping; Sun, Jibin; Meyer, Vera

Filamentous fungi are found in virtually every marine and terrestrial habitat. Vital to this success is their ability to secrete a diverse range of molecules, including hydrolytic enzymes, organic acids, and small molecular weight natural products. Industrial biotechnologists have successfully harnessed and re-engineered the secretory capacity of dozens of filamentous fungal species to make a diverse portfolio of useful molecules. The study of fungal secretion outside fermenters, e.g., during host infection or in mixed microbial communities, has also led to the development of novel and emerging technological breakthroughs, ranging from ultra-sensitive biosensors of fungal disease to the efficient bioremediation of polluted environments. In this review, we consider filamentous fungal secretion across multiple disciplinary boundaries (e.g., white, green, and red biotechnology) and product classes (protein, organic acid, and secondary metabolite). We summarize the mechanistic understanding for how various molecules are secreted and present numerous applications for extracellular products. Additionally, we discuss how the control of secretory pathways and the polar growth of filamentous hyphae can be utilized in diverse settings, including industrial biotechnology, agriculture, and the clinic.
Published in: Journal of Fungi, 10.3390/jof7070535, MDPI