BackgroundSoftwood is the predominant form of land plant biomass in the Northern hemisphere, and is among the most recalcitrant biomass resources to bioprocess technologies. The white rot fungus, Phanerochaete carnosa, has been isolated almost exclusively from softwoods, while most other known white-rot species, including Phanerochaete chrysosporium, were mainly isolated from hardwoods. Accordingly, it is anticipated that P. carnosa encodes a distinct set of enzymes and proteins that promote softwood decomposition. To elucidate the genetic basis of softwood bioconversion by a white-rot fungus, the present study reports the P. carnosa genome sequence and its comparative analysis with the previously reported P. chrysosporium genome.ResultsP. carnosa encodes a complete set of lignocellulose-active enzymes. Comparative genomic analysis revealed that P. carnosa is enriched with genes encoding manganese peroxidase, and that the most divergent glycoside hydrolase families were predicted to encode hemicellulases and glycoprotein degrading enzymes. Most remarkably, P. carnosa possesses one of the largest P450 contingents (266 P450s) among the sequenced and annotated wood-rotting basidiomycetes, nearly double that of P. chrysosporium. Along with metabolic pathway modeling, comparative growth studies on model compounds and chemical analyses of decomposed wood components showed greater tolerance of P. carnosa to various substrates including coniferous heartwood.ConclusionsThe P. carnosa genome is enriched with genes that encode P450 monooxygenases that can participate in extractives degradation, and manganese peroxidases involved in lignin degradation. The significant expansion of P450s in P. carnosa, along with differences in carbohydrate- and lignin-degrading enzymes, could be correlated to the utilization of heartwood and sapwood preparations from both coniferous and hardwood species.