Proteinase activity was detected in culture filtrates of eight wood-decaying basidiomycete fungi and compared in terms of ability to clear skimmed milk agar. All the fungi were proteolytic, but to differing extents. Five were compared using azocasein hydrolysis as a measure of proteolytic activity at the centres and margins of agar-grown colonies and it was found that in the marginal mycelium was the more strongly proteolytic, while in all the other fungi proteolysis by central mycelium was greater. The time course of changes in proteolytic activity in culture filtrates of and grown on the surface of liquid media was compared over 4 weeks, and differences were found which suggested that mycelium inactivates its proteinases after secreting them, but that does not. The results are interpreted in terms of the likely role of proteinases in the nitrogen economy of these fungi when growing on their wood substrates.


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