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  1. The formation of lignin-like structures by the degradation primarily of plant polysaccharides has been observed after the severe thermochemical acidic pretreatment of lignocellulosic biomass.
    Cited by 1
  2. Background: Cellulase adsorption to lignin is considered a cost barrier for bioethanol production; however, its detailed association mechanism is still not fully understood. In this study, two natural poplar variants with high and low sugar release performance were selected as the low and high recalcitrant raw materials (named L and H, respectively). Three different lignin fractions were extracted using ethanol, followed by p-dioxane and then cellulase treatment from the dilute acid pretreated poplar solids (fraction 1, 2, and 3, respectively).Results: Each lignin fraction had different physicochemical properties. Ethanol-extracted lignin had the lowest weight average molecular weight, while the molecular weightsmore » for the other two lignin fractions were similar. 31P NMR analysis revealed that lignin fraction with higher molecular weight contained more aliphatic hydroxyl groups and less phenolic hydroxyl groups. Semi-quantitative analysis by 2D HSQC NMR indicated that the lignin fractions isolated from the natural variants had different contents of syringyl (S), guaiacyl (G) and interunit linkages. Lignin extracted by ethanol contained the largest amount of S units, the smallest amounts of G and p-hydroxybenzoate (PB) subunits, while the contents of these lignin subunits in the other two lignin fractions were similar. The lignin fraction obtained after cellulase treatment was primarily comprised of β-O-4 linkages with small amounts of β-5 and β–β linkages. The binding strength of these three lignin fractions obtained by Langmuir equations were in the order of L1 > L3 > L2 for the low recalcitrance poplar and H1 > H2 > H3 for the high recalcitrance poplar.Conclusions: Overall, adsorption ability of lignin was correlated with the sugar release of poplar. Structural features of lignin were associated with its binding to CBH. For natural poplar variants, lignin fractions with lower molecular weight and polydispersity index (PDI) exhibited more CBH adsorption ability. Lignins with more phenolic hydroxyl groups had higher CBH binding strength. It was also found that lignin fractions with more condensed aromatics adsorbed more CBH likely attributed to stronger hydrophobic interactions.« less
  3. Use of oleaginous microorganisms as “micro-factories” for accumulation of single cell oils for biofuel production has increased significantly to mitigate growing energy demands, resulting in efforts to upgrade industrial waste, such as second-generation lignocellulosic residues, into potential feedstocks. Dilute-acid pretreatment (DAP) is commonly used to alter the physicochemical properties of lignocellulosic materials and is typically coupled with simultaneous saccharification and fermentation (SSF) for conversion of sugars into ethanol. The resulting DAP residues are usually processed as a waste stream, e.g. burned for power, but this provides minimal value. Alternatively, these wastes can be utilized as feedstock to generate lipids, whichmore » can be converted to biofuel. DAP-SSF residues were generated from pine, poplar, and switchgrass. High performance liquid chromatography revealed less than 0.13% monomeric sugars in the dry residue. Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy was indicative of the presence of lignin and polysaccharides. Gel permeation chromatography suggested the bacterial strains preferred molecules with molecular weight ~ 400–500 g/mol. DAP-SSF residues were used as the sole carbon source for lipid production by Rhodococcus opacus DSM 1069 and PD630 in batch fermentations. Depending on the strain of Rhodococcus employed, 9–11 lipids for PD630 and DSM 1069 were observed, at a final concentration of ~ 15 mg/L fatty acid methyl esters (FAME) detected. Though the DAP-SSF substrate resulted in low FAME titers, novel analysis of solid-state fermentations was investigated, which determined that DAP-SSF residues could be a viable feedstock for lipid generation.« less
  4. Hydrothermal pretreatment using liquid hot water (LHW) is capable of substantially reducing the cell wall recalcitrance of lignocellulosic biomass. It enhances the saccharification of polysaccharides, particularly cellulose, into glucose with relatively low capital required. Due to the close association with biomass recalcitrance, the structural change of the components of lignocellulosic materials during the pretreatment is crucial to understand pretreatment chemistry and advance the bio-economy. Although the LHW pretreatment has been extensively applied and studied, the molecular structural alteration during pretreatment and its significance to reduced recalcitrance have not been well understood.
  5. It has been previously shown that cellulose-lignin droplets’ strong interactions, resulting from lignin coalescence and redisposition on cellulose surface during thermochemical pretreatments, increase cellulose recalcitrance to biological conversion, especially at commercially viable low enzyme loadings. However, information on the impact of cellulose–hemicellulose interactions on cellulose recalcitrance following relevant pretreatment conditions are scarce. Here, to investigate the effects of plausible hemicellulose precipitation and re-association with cellulose on cellulose conversion, different pretreatments were applied to pure Avicel® PH101 cellulose alone and Avicel mixed with model hemicellulose compounds followed by enzymatic hydrolysis of resulting solids at both low and high enzyme loadings. Solidsmore » produced by pretreatment of Avicel mixed with hemicelluloses (AMH) were found to contain about 2 to 14.6% of exogenous, precipitated hemicelluloses and showed a remarkably much lower digestibility (up to 60%) than their respective controls. However, the exogenous hemicellulosic residues that associated with Avicel following high temperature pretreatments resulted in greater losses in cellulose conversion than those formed at low temperatures, suggesting that temperature plays a strong role in the strength of cellulose–hemicellulose association. Molecular dynamics simulations of hemicellulosic xylan and cellulose were found to further support this temperature effect as the xylan–cellulose interactions were found to substantially increase at elevated temperatures. Furthermore, exogenous, precipitated hemicelluloses in pretreated AMH solids resulted in a larger drop in cellulose conversion than the delignified lignocellulosic biomass containing comparably much higher natural hemicellulose amounts. In conclusion, increased cellulase loadings or supplementation of cellulase with xylanases enhanced cellulose conversion for most pretreated AMH solids; however, this approach was less effective for solids containing mannan polysaccharides, suggesting stronger association of cellulose with (hetero) mannans or lack of enzymes in the mixture required to hydrolyze such polysaccharides.« less
  6. Cited by 1
  7. Biorefining of plant feedstocks into fuels and specialty chemicals, using biological conversion, requires the solubilization of lignocellulosics into simpler oligomeric compounds. However, non-pretreated woody biomass has shown high resistance to hydrolysis by cellulolytic microbes or purified cellulases. We investigate the limited solubilization of Populus deltoides by the cellulolytic thermophile Clostridium thermocellum in the absence of solute inhibitors. Compared to control samples, fermented poplar revealed that the hydrolysis of carbohydrates in secondary cell walls ceased prematurely as lignin presence increased at the surface. In quantitative fluorescence colocalization analysis by confocal laser scanning microscopy, the Manders’ coefficient of fractional overlap between ligninmore » and cellulose signals increased from an average of 0.67 to a near-maximum 0.92 in fermented tissue. Chemical imaging by time-of-flight secondary ion mass spectrometry revealed a 49% decline in surface cellulose and a compensatory 30% and 11% increase in surface S- and G- lignin, respectively. Although 72% of the initial glucan was still present in the lignocellulose matrix of this feedstock, subsequent treatments with cell-free purified cellulases did not significantly restore hydrolysis. This confirmed that biomass surfaces had become non-productive for the C. thermocellum hydrolytic exoproteome. This study provides direct evidence for an explicit definition of feedstock recalcitrance, whereby depletion of surface carbohydrate increases lignin exposure which leads to inhibition of enzyme activity, while the bulk residual biomass retains significant undigested carbohydrate content. The analysis presented here establishes a novel method for the quantitation of lignocellulose recalcitrance.« less
  8. Genetic modification of plant cell walls has been posed to reduce lignocellulose recalcitrance for enhancing biomass saccharification. Several dozen CESA mutants have been reported since cellulose synthase (CESA) gene was first identified, but almost all mutants exhibit the defective phenotypes in plant growth and development. Here, the rice (Oryza sativa) Osfc16 mutant with substitutions (W481C, P482S) at P-CR conserved site in CESA9 shows a slightly affected plant growth and higher biomass yield by 25%–41% compared with wild type (Nipponbare, a japonica variety). Chemical and ultrastructural analyses indicate that Osfc16 has a significantly reduced cellulose crystallinity (CrI) and thinner secondary cellmore » walls compared with wild type. CESA co-IP detection, together with implementations of a proteasome inhibitor (MG132) and two distinct cellulose inhibitors (Calcofluor, CGA), shows that CESA9 mutation could affect integrity of CESA4/7/9 complexes, which may lead to rapid CESA proteasome degradation for low-DP cellulose biosynthesis. These may reduce cellulose CrI, which improves plant lodging resistance, a major and integrated agronomic trait on plant growth and grain production, and enhances biomass enzymatic saccharification by up to 2.3-fold and ethanol productivity by 34%–42%. Our study has for the first time reported a direct modification for the low-DP cellulose production that has broad applications in biomass industries.« less
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  9. Here, livestock and fish farming are rapidly growing industries facing the simultaneous pressure of increasing production demands and limited protein required to produce feed. Bacteria that can convert low-value non-food waste streams into singe cell protein (SCP) present an intriguing route for rapid protein production. The oleaginous bacterium Rhodococcus opacus serves as a model organism for understanding microbial lipid production. SCP production has not been explored using an organism from this genus. In the present research, R. opacus strains DSM 1069 and PD630 were fed three agro-waste streams: (1) orange pulp, juice, and peel; (2) lemon pulp, juice, and peel;more » and (3) corn stover effluent, to determine if these low-cost substrates would be suitable for producing a value-added product, SCP for aquafarming or livestock feed. Both strains used agro-waste carbon sources as a growth substrate to produce protein-rich cell biomass suggesting that that R. opacus can be used to produce SCP using agro-wastes as low-cost substrates.« less
  10. Lignin, one of the major chemical constituents of woody biomass, is the second most abundant biopolymer found in nature. The pulp and paper industry has long produced lignin on the scale of millions of tons annually as a by-product of the pulping process, and the dawn of cellulosic ethanol production has further contributed to this amount. Historically, lignin has been perceived as a waste material and burned as a fuel for the pulping process. But, recent research has been geared toward developing cost-effective technologies to convert lignin into valuable commodities. Attributing to the polyphenolic structure of lignin, enzymatic modification ofmore » its surface using laccases (benzenediol:oxygen oxidoreductases, EC 1.10.3.2) has demonstrated to be highly successful. The current study aims at developing lignin-core hyperbranched copolymers via the laccase-assisted copolymerization of kraft lignin with methylhydroquinone and a trithiol. Based on the physical properties of the resulting material, it is likely that crosslinking reactions have taken place during the drying process to produce a copolymeric network rather than discrete hyperbranched copolymers, with NMR data providing evidence of covalent bonding between monomers. A preliminary thermal analysis data reveals that the copolymeric material possesses a moderate glass transition temperature and exhibits good thermostability, thus may have potential application as a lignin-based thermoplastic. Scanning electron microscopy images confirm the smooth, glossy surface of the material and that it is densely packed. Our results are a sustainable, ecofriendly, economic method to create an exciting novel biomaterial from a renewable feedstock while further enhancing lignin valorization.« less

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