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Phytochemistry. 2003 Sep;64(2):603-7.

Hot alkali-labile linkages in the walls of the forage grass Phalaris aquatica and Lolium perenne and their relation to in vitro wall digestibility.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry, La Trobe University, Bundoora, 3086 Victoria, Australia.


The factors affecting in vitro dry matter digestibility (IVDMD) of fully mature internodes of 150 lines of the forage grass, Phalaris aquatica, and internodes of 100 lines of perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne), harvested just after anthesis, were investigated. The relationships between IVDMD and the contents of acetyl bromide lignin, and ester-ether linkages between lignin and wall polysaccharides, measured by hydroxycinnamic acids (HCAs) released by 4 M NaOH at 170 degrees C respectively, were determined. The regression analysis gave r(2)=0.05 and 0.03 for the relation between IVDMD and lignin content and r(2)=0.51 and 0.53 for the relation between IVDMD and the content of hot alkali-labile HCA (predominantly ferulic acid) for phalaris and ryegrass, respectively. These observations are interpreted in terms of the restricted accessibility of polysaccharide hydrolysing enzymes to their substrates in the forage cell walls by the covalent cross-linking of wall polymers through HCAs.

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