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Biomacromolecules. 2012 Feb 13;13(2):445-54. doi: 10.1021/bm2014763. Epub 2012 Jan 30.

Chromatographic detection of lignin-carbohydrate complexes in annual plants by derivatization in ionic liquid.

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Department of Environmental and Earth Sciences, University of Milano-Bicocca , Piazza della Scienza 1, Milan I-20126, Italy.


The opportunity for detecting the presence and the amount of lignin-carbohydrate complexes (LCCs) in renewable feedstocks is a major issue for the complete utilization of biomass. Indeed, LCCs are known to shield cellulose from enzymatic hydrolysis, reducing the efficiency of the digestion processes needed for the production of biobased products. This study is focused on the chromatographic characterization of lignocellulose from agricultural residues (rice husk, wheat straw) and herbaceous energy crops ( Arundo donax , Miscanthus sinesis ) and their fractionation products (hemicellulose, cellulose, and lignin). Exploiting alternative chemical derivatizations on the aforementioned samples, it was possible to discern the connectivity among the various lignocellulosic components. The complete acetylation and benzoylation of the milled native substrates in ionic liquid media, and the systematic comparison between their GPC-UV chromatograms collected at different wavelengths has revealed itself as a straightforward technique in the detection of LCCs. This novel approach proved an extensive connectivity between the lignin and the hemicellulosic for all the analyzed specimens, whereas the cellulosic fraction was conceived as a substantially unbound moiety, accounting for the sample composition at higher molecular weights. Moreover, the collected lignin fractions were extensively characterized by means of (31)P NMR and 2D-HSQC techniques.

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