The University of Massachusetts Amherst

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Barry Goodell


Our laboratory conducts research on fungal systems, but also on the biochemical mechanisms that fungi use to cause disease in humans or to deconstruct/decay lignocellulose biomass. The groups of fungi we work with employ unique, and very interesting, redox-cycling chemistries that allow these organisms to cause damage and/or initiate pathogenesis. Our research has also branched out into the study of the biochemical mechanisms that the fungi use to mimic their action. This allows us  to study disease mechanisms more readily, or to develop "biomimetic" processes. One biomimetic process we are exploring in the lab now with an international consortium of colleagues is in the deconstruction of biomass for future "biorefinery" applications. In the biomedical realm, we are also exploring how related redox-cycling chemistries may promote neurodegenerative disease when these chemistries are triggered in specific organelles, or in mass lesions in the brain. 

Current Research

Bioconversion Research (Environmental Microbiology)
Fungal degradation: In biomass deconstruction (bioconversion) research, enzymes are typically used to depolymerize the components of biomass. However, enzymes are too large to penetrate the intact structure of plant/wood cell walls so they are very inefficient in untreated wood. In nature, some fungi known as the "brown rot" fungi have developed a low molecular weight system to generate oxygen radicals that can rapidly penetrate, and then deconstruct, plant cell walls. The low molecular weight system known as the "chelator-mediated Fenton" (CMF) system  rapidly depolymerizes the two basic building blocks of wood; cellulose (holocellulose) and lignin. The model brown rot organism that we have used for much of our research, Gloeophyllum trabeum, uses the CMF mechanism, and in our lab we are trying to better understand the chemistry that underpins this mechanism.

Biomedical Research: (Disease-related Research) 
Pathogenesis:  In our lab we study a fungal organism that is an important human pathogen, but that also is very closely related to fungi that inhabit forest niches and that decay wood. Cryptococcus neoformans evolved from these wood decay fungi, in ways currently not well understood, to attack the brain and other organs of mammals and other animals. C. neoformans' natural habitat is the forest and it can be found growing in niches in the bark of forest trees. However, after invading the lungs of a host, the fungus can move to the brain, and it thrives in the lysosomes of cells to cause Cryptococcal meningitis; a disease which kills 600,000 people each year. A key focus is exploring whether the CMF mechanisms, known to be active in certain brown rot wood decay fungi (see Bioconversion Research section on this page) also play a role in pathogenesis.

Learn more at: 

Academic Background

Professor, Microbiology Department, University of Massachusetts. Amherst, MA. 2017-current.
Professor, Department of Sustainable Biomaterials. Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA. 2012-2017: 
Professor and Head, Department of Sustainable Biomaterials. Blacksburg, VA. 2010-2012.  
Asst. Prof, Assoc. Prof, Professor , Wood Science and Technology/Forest Products Laboratory, University of Maine, Orono, (1983-2010). 

Ph.D – 1983: Wood Science (Wood Science and Engineering), Oregon State University. Minors: Biochemistry/Biophysics; Plant Pathology
M.S – 1980: Wood Science (Wood Science and Engineering), Oregon State University. 
B.S – 1976: University of New Hampshire. 

For a complete list of Professor Goodell's current publications, please see:
Synchrotron-based X-ray fluorescence microscopy enables multiscale spatial visualization of ions involved in fungal lignocellulose deconstruction. 2017. Grant Kirker, Sam Zelinka, Sophie-Charlotte Gleber, David Vine, Lydia Finney, Si Chen, Young Pyo Hong, Omar Uyarte, Stefan Vogt, Jody Jellison, Barry Goodell, Joseph E Jakes. Scientific Reports 7, 41798
Engineered Microbial Production of 2-Pyrone-4, 6-Dicarboxylic Acid from Lignin Residues for Use as an Industrial Platform Chemical. 2016. Yun Qian, Yuichiro Otsuka, Tomonori Sonoki, Biswarup Mukhopadhyay, Masaya Nakamura, Jody Jellison, Barry Goodell. BioResources 11 (3), 6097-6109
Lignocellulose degradation mechanisms across the Tree of Life. 2015. Simon M Cragg, Gregg T Beckham, Neil C Bruce, Timothy DH Bugg, Daniel L Distel, Paul Dupree, Amaia Green Etxabe, Barry S Goodell, Jody Jellison, John E McGeehan, Simon J McQueen-Mason, Kirk Schnorr, Paul H Walton, Joy EM Watts, Martin Zimmer. Current Opinion in Chemical Biology 29, 108-119
The plant cell wall–decomposing machinery underlies the functional diversity of forest fungi. 2011. Daniel C Eastwood, Dimitrios Floudas, Manfred Binder, Andrzej Majcherczyk, Patrick Schneider, Andrea Aerts, Fred O Asiegbu, Scott E Baker, Kerrie Barry, Mika Bendiksby, Melanie Blumentritt, Pedro M Coutinho, Dan Cullen, Ronald P de Vries, Allen Gathman, Barry Goodell, Bernard Henrissat, Katarina Ihrmark, Hävard Kauserud, Annegret Kohler, Kurt LaButti, Alla Lapidus, José L Lavin, Yong-Hwan Lee, Erika Lindquist, Walt Lilly, Susan Lucas, Emmanuelle Morin, Claude Murat, José A Oguiza, Jongsun Park, Antonio G Pisabarro, Robert Riley, Anna Rosling, Asaf Salamov, Olaf Schmidt, Jeremy Schmutz, Inger Skrede, Jan Stenlid, Ad Wiebenga, Xinfeng Xie, Ursula Kües, David S Hibbett, Dirk Hoffmeister, Nils Högberg, Francis Martin, Igor V Grigoriev, Sarah C Watkinson. Science 333 (6043), 762-765
Contact Info

313 Stockbridge/220 Morrill
80 Campus Center Way/627 N Pleasant ST
Amherst, MA 01003-9292