2022(2)      April - June, 2022

Nature and activities of microfungi associated with the decomposition of rice straw in Sri Lanka

Lanka Undugoda1, Sagarika Kannangara2*

1Department of Biosystems Technology, Faculty of Technology, University of Sri Jayewardenepura, Sri Lanka

2Department of Plant and Molecular Biology, Faculty of Science, University of Kelaniya, Sri Lanka


Agricultural sustainability through crop residue biodegradation is an eco-friendly method to enrich soil fertility essential to agricultural countries. Rice straw, rich in cellulose, is the primary source of organic matter, enhancing the fertility in rice fields and is a better alternative to replace chemical fertilizer usage. Therefore, this attempt is to isolate and identify different genera of straw degrading microfungi efficient in lignocellulose biodegradation. Rice straw degrading fungal species were isolated from the partially degraded rice straw collected from selected areas in Sri Lanka, following the washing and plating techniques. They were identified into the genus level using standard identification keys, and their capacity to degrade cellulose, starch, lignin, and pectin were evaluated using substrate-specific testing protocols. Eighteen fungal species in the genera of Aspergillus, Chaetomium, Cunninghamella, Goidanichiella, Penicillium, Rhizomucor, Rhizopus, Stachybotrys, and Trichoderma were isolated from the partially degraded rice straw collected from different areas of Sri Lanka. Three Trichoderma species showed significantly the highest frequency of occurrences (40%, 45%, and 43% respectively) in rice straw and a homogenous distribution among the collected samples. Furthermore, they were significantly efficient in degrading cellulose, starch, pectin, and lignin. Since the management of crop residues has become an essential aspect of sustaining long-term fertility in cropping systems, incorporation of rice straw, which is rich with cellulose, and the application of Trichoderma species into the harvested rice fields will improve the nutrient availability and hence rice yield.

Keywords: Degradation, lignocellulose, rice straw, substrate utilization, Trichoderma spp.


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