Nine phenolic compounds (p-coumaric acid, ferulic acid, guaiacol, syringol, p-methoxyphenol, pyrocatechol, phloroglucinol, 3,5-dihydroxybenzoic acid, and syringaldazine) were tested for their ability to increase laccase production in the ligninolytic basidiomycete Trametes sp. 1-62. All these compounds resulted in increases in laccase activity, with the highest levels being detected in the presence of p-coumaric acid (273-fold) and guaiacol (73-fold). The three laccase isozyme genes in this fungus lcc1, lcc2, and lcc3 are differentially expressed in the presence of some of these aromatics with total lcc transcript levels differing markedly depending on the aromatic compound tested. Guaiacol (the best inducer of lcc gene transcription) and p-coumaric acid selectively induced expression of lcc1 and lcc2; ferulic acid induced lcc3 expression, while 3,5-dihydroxybenzoic acid had no marked effect on laccase gene transcription. The results demonstrate that close-related aromatic compounds appear to have different effects on both laccase activity levels and lcc gene expression in this basidiomycete. (C) 2004 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.