Summary: Extracellular hydrogen peroxide has in the past been implicated in the degradation of the crystalline cellulose component of plant cell walls, particularly by brown-rot fungi. Using assays sensitive to 1 μg peroxide ml no evidence could be found of extracellular hydrogen peroxide in culture media of several basidiomycete fungi examined, although some free radicals may have been produced on the surface of the fungal hyphae. Analysis of the products of enzymic degradation of crystalline cellulose by gas chromatography/mass spectroscopy revealed a range of oxidized sugars which most probably resulted from the action of peroxide free radicals derived from hydrogen peroxide.


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