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Daniel Cullen

Daniel Cullen
Research Microbiologist
Institute for Microbial and Biochemical Sciences
One Gifford Pinchot Drive
Madison, WI 53726-2398
United States
Current Research
Our main goal is to develop a fundamental understanding of the molecular genetics and physiology of wood decay fungi, particularly as it relates to mechanisms of lignocelulose degradation. Within this broad area, my labs seeks (a) to elucidate the underlying genetics of lignin degrading white rot fungi including the number, structure, organization and regulation of genes relevant to lignocellulose conversions, (b) to advance our understanding of the biochemistry of essential enzymes, (c) to fully develop fundamental genetics of a representative brown rot fungi, and (d) to advance our understanding of gene function via high throughput approaches suitable for whole genomes.Genome investigations have focused principally on the white rot fungus Phanerochaete chrysosporium and the brown rot fungus Postia placenta. However, our collaborations with the Department of Energy's Joint Genome Institute have recently expanded to include the related white rot fungi, Ceriporiopsis subvermispora ( and Phlebiopsis gigantea. In addition to their central role in carbon cycling, these wood decay fungi are representative of the basidiomycetes, a broad taxa including mycorrhizae, plant, human and animal pathogens, edible forms, and various saprophytes. Accordingly, my lab also contributes to large international teams examining the distribution and role of these fungi in forest soils, particularly following fire disturbance.
Research Interest
  • Molecular genetics of filamentous fungi
  • High throughput analysis of fungal transcriptomes and proteomes
  • Mechanisms of wood decay
  • Enzyme discovery for applications in bioenergy, bioremediation, and pulp and paper processing
  • University of Wisconsin, Madison, Ph.D., , 1981
  • State University of New York at Stony Brook, B.S., , 1975
Professional Organizations
  • Member,  American Society for Microbiology,  Current
  • Editor,  Applied and Environmental Microbiology,  Current
  • Advisory Panels,  National Science Foundation and Department of Energy,  Current
Featured Publications
Other Publications
Research Highlights

Genetic basis of lignocellulose degradation

Year: 2017
Exploiting the recent availability of fungal genomes, Forest Service researchers have developed computational approaches for the identification of key wood decay enzymes.

Patterns of Gene Expression Provide Insight into Wood Decay Mechanisms

Year: 2019
Comparative examination of gene regulation reveals significant differences among brown rot fungi when colonizing different wood species.

Gene Conservation Among Lignocellulose-Degrading Fungi

Year: 2020
By examining the number, structure, and expression of fungal genes an international team of researchers have demonstrated conserved mechanisms of lignocellulose deconstruction.

Fast Forward' Genetics for Renewable Fuels

Year: 2010
Researchers at the Forest Products Laboratory used mutagenesis, strain selection and genetic manipulation over a period of seven years to develop improved strains of yeasts that will produce renewable fuel (ethanol) from wood residues.

Common Button Mushroom Studied for Key Role in Recycling Carbon

Year: 2013
Recent genome studies of Agaricus reveal specialized adaptations to litter- and soil-rich environments which may be used to remediate contaminated soils.

Research Demystifies Wood Decaying Fungi

Year: 2013
Newly sequenced fungal genomes provide insight into the enzymatic conversion of wood into high value products.

Hidden Lives of Wood Decay Fungi Uncovered by Genome Sequencing

Year: 2012
The decoded genomes of 12 species reveal a complex repertoire of proteins involved in the deconstruction of key polymers within wood cell walls

Fungi Use Multiple Strategies for Deconstruction of Woody Biomass

Year: 2016
A diverse array of enzymes catalyze the bioconversion of wood toward biofuels and other high-value products.