Toxic organohalogen pollutants produced as by-products of industrial processes, such as chloroform and polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins, also have significant natural sources. A substantial terrestrial source of halogenated organics originates from fungal decay of wood and leaf litter. Here we show that the lignicolous basidiomycete Phellinus badius deposits up to 30,000 mg of the halogenated metabolite drosophilin A methyl ether (DAME, tetrachloro-1,4-dimethoxybenzene) per kilogram of decayed heartwood in the mesquite Prosopis juliflora. DAME occurs as clusters of glassy crystals up to 1 mm long within the decayed heartwood. In addition, the Phellinus badius basidiocarps contain an average of 24,000 mg DAME/kg dried fruiting body, testifying to the significant translocation and accumulation of Cl accompanied by DAME biosynthesis. The high DAME concentrations attest to the substantial Cl content of the heartwood, which averages near 5,000 ppm, with Cl/K near 1:1, consistent with an inorganic chloride precursor. Phellinus badius has a circumglobal distribution in the tropics and subtropics, where it is widely distributed on hardwoods and commonly associated with decay of mesquite. There is the potential for extensive DAME formation within decayed heartwood worldwide given the extensive range of Phellinus badius and its propensity to form DAME within mesquites. Further, DAME production is not limited to Phellinus badius but occurs in a range of lignicolous basidiomycetes, suggesting a significant natural reservoir for this chloroaromatic with potential environmental implications.
- Chlorinated hydroquinone metabolites
- Organohalogen pollutants
- Phellinus badius
- Prosopis juliflora
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics