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Lignin content in natural Populus variants affects sugar release

By Michael H. Studer, Jaclyn D. DeMartini, Mark F. Davis, Robert W. Sykes, Brian Davison, Martin Keller, Gerald A. Tuskan and Charles E. Wyman

Abstract

The primary obstacle to producing renewable fuels from lignocellulosic biomass is a plant's recalcitrance to releasing sugars bound in the cell wall. From a sample set of wood cores representing 1,100 individual undomesticated Populus trichocarpa trees, 47 extreme phenotypes were selected across measured lignin content and ratio of syringyl and guaiacyl units (S/G ratio). This subset was tested for total sugar release through enzymatic hydrolysis alone as well as through combined hot-water pretreatment and enzymatic hydrolysis using a high-throughput screening method. The total amount of glucan and xylan released varied widely among samples, with total sugar yields of up to 92% of the theoretical maximum. A strong negative correlation between sugar release and lignin content was only found for pretreated samples with an S/G ratio < 2.0. For higher S/G ratios, sugar release was generally higher, and the negative influence of lignin was less pronounced. When examined separately, only glucose release was correlated with lignin content and S/G ratio in this manner, whereas xylose release depended on the S/G ratio alone. For enzymatic hydrolysis without pretreatment, sugar release increased significantly with decreasing lignin content below 20%, irrespective of the S/G ratio. Furthermore, certain samples featuring average lignin content and S/G ratios exhibited exceptional sugar release. These facts suggest that factors beyond lignin and S/G ratio influence recalcitrance to sugar release and point to a critical need for deeper understanding of cell-wall structure before plants can be rationally engineered for reduced recalcitrance and efficient biofuels production

Topics: Biological Sciences
Publisher: National Academy of Sciences
OAI identifier: oai:pubmedcentral.nih.gov:3076829
Provided by: PubMed Central
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