February 14, 2022
Claire Anderson, a PhD candidate in the Bioproducts and Biosystems Science, Engineering and Management (BBSEM) program has been awarded the Louise T. Dosdall Fellowship. This fellowship supports women graduate students in any field of the natural or physical sciences who show exceptional promise for a successful career in research. Dr. Dosdall was a pioneering, female mycologist at the University of Minnesota. She was faculty in the Plant Pathology department for 41 years and established the fellowship in her will. Dr. Dosdall received her PhD in 1922 and now, 100 years later, Ms. Anderson is honored to carry forward her aspirations and love of mycology.
Claire Anderson's Research:
Fungi are among the few organisms on Earth that can sustainably make energy from plant lignocellulose, such as wood. Brown rot fungi, in particular, employ a carbohydrate-selective mechanism that has great appeal for biotechnology applications, such as bioconversion, as it circumvents the recalcitrant lignin in the wood and releases the more desirable carbohydrates. However, this unique mechanism for lignocellulose degradation is not yet thoroughly understood. Anderson's research focuses on how substrate chemistry enables and regulates brown rot decay. Anderson is using genomics-enabled techniques to explore the gene expression patterns at the onset of brown rot decay as well as reexamine old questions about the role of lignin and hemicellulose in enabling the brown rot mechanism. In addition to gaining clarity on the biochemical interactions between fungus and substrate, Anderson hopes to identify specific substrate components that act as ‘cues’ to kickstart the brown rot mechanism, which would present an opportunity to control decay timing when used in an industrial system. A better understanding of brown rot decay would not only facilitate potential biotechnology applications, but also help us more accurately predict carbon fluxes from wood (80% of total above ground carbon) in carbon cycle models.