ABSTRACT The distribution and specificity of extracellular nucleases produced by marine fungi belonging to eleven genera, namely: Alternaria, Aspergillus, Aureobasidium, Chaetomium, Fusarium, Gliomastix, Humicola, Penicillium, Scopulariopsis, Wardomyces, Periconia, have implied its important function in the organic phosphorus and nitrogen circle in the Ocean. The fungal nucleases of 64 isolates tested were more or less specific for single-stranded DNA with a high preferential specificity towards poly-U substrate with forming of 5’-phosphate mononucleotides. A couple of the nucleases were capable of RNA digesting. The highest level of extracellular nucleolytic ability was observed in Penicillium spp. isolates. The tight correlation found between extracellular nuclease activity and the rate of thymidine uptake by actively growing and sporulating marine fungus Penicillium melinii suggests that this nuclease is required for fulfilling the nucleotide pool of precursors of DNA biosynthesis during transformation of hyphae into the aerial mycelium and conidia in stressful environmental conditions.
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