Over the past decade, research collaborations between the Department of Energy's Joint Genome Institute (JGI) and the Forest Products Laboratory (FPL) have resulted in major advances on understanding the fundamental genetics of the fungi responsible for wood decay. Milestones include seminal publications describing the complete DNA sequence of decay fungi. These genome sequences predicted the existence of many thousands of new genes and thereby opened the door to whole new areas of research. Now, in collaboration with the JGI, the University of Wisconsin, the University of Minnesota, and the University of British Columbia; FPL researchers have leapt forward by identifying the specific genes most likely involved in decay. The researchers determined exactly which genes were transcribed into RNA and then translated into secreted proteins when the fungi were grown on wood. These results provide an unparalleled glimpse into the mechanisms of wood decay and have particular relevance to the development of bioprocesses for converting wood into fuels and other valuable products. Moreover, understanding the mechanisms of wood decay may ultimately lead to more effective strategies for controlling the destructive decay of wood in buildings. These microbes are also ubiquitous components of forest ecosystems and knowledge of wood decay mechanism is essential for a clear understanding of carbon sequestration and mineral cycling.