The fungus was originally described by French botanist Jean Bulliard in 1785 as Boletus unicolor, when all pored fungi were typically assigned to genus Boletus. William Alphonso Murrill transferred it to Cerrena in 1903. The fungus has acquired a long and extensive synonymy as it has been redescribed under many different names, and been transferred to many polypore genera.
Cerrena unicolor has fruit bodies that are semicircular, wavy brackets up to 10 centimeters (4 in) wide. Attached to the growing surface without a stalk (sessile), the upper surface is finely hairy, white to grayish brown in color, and in zonate—marked with zones or concentric bands of color. The surface is often green from algal growth. The pore surface is whitish in young specimens, later turning gray in maturity. The arrangement of the pores resembles a maze of slots; the tubes may extend to 4 mm deep. The spore print is white.
Cerrena unicolor causes canker rot and decay in paper birch (Betula papyrifera) and sugar maple (Acer saccharum). The fungus has a wide distribution, and is found in Asia, Europe, South America, and North America.
Cerrena unicolor has been identified as a source of the enzyme laccase. This enzyme has potential applications in a wide variety of bioprocesses. C. unicolor is known to produce laccase in culture at more favorable conditions and in higher yield than other wood rotting fungi, and research is focussing on ways to produce laccase cost-effectively on a large scale.
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- Murrill, W.A. (1903). "A historical review of the genera of the Polyporaceae". Journal of Mycology. 9 (2): 87–102.
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- Blanchette, Robert; Biggs, Alan (2013). Defense Mechanisms of Woody Plants Against Fungi. Springer Science & Business Media. p. 47. ISBN 978-3-662-01642-8.
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- Rogalski J, Dawidowicz A, Jóźwik E, Leonowicz A. (1999). Immobilization of laccase from Cerrena unicolor on controlled porosity glass. Journal of Molecular Catalysis (B: Enzymatic) 6: 29–39.
- Janusz, Grzegorz; Rogalski, Jerzy; Szczodrak, Janusz (2007). "Increased production of laccase by Cerrena unicolor in submerged liquid cultures". World Journal of Microbiology and Biotechnology. 23 (10): 1459–1464. doi:10.1007/s11274-007-9390-y.