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PLoS One. 2013 Jun 19;8(6):e66919. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0066919. Print 2013.

Differences in Cellulosic Supramolecular Structure of Compositionally Similar Rice Straw Affect Biomass Metabolism by Paddy Soil Microbiota.

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Graduate School of Medical Life Science, Yokohama City University, Yokohama, Kanagawa, Japan.


Because they are strong and stable, lignocellulosic supramolecular structures in plant cell walls are resistant to decomposition. However, they can be degraded and recycled by soil microbiota. Little is known about the biomass degradation profiles of complex microbiota based on differences in cellulosic supramolecular structures without compositional variations. Here, we characterized and evaluated the cellulosic supramolecular structures and composition of rice straw biomass processed under different milling conditions. We used a range of techniques including solid- and solution-state nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) and Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy followed by thermodynamic and microbial degradability characterization using thermogravimetric analysis, solution-state NMR, and denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis. These measured data were further analyzed using an "ECOMICS" web-based toolkit. From the results, we found that physical pretreatment of rice straw alters the lignocellulosic supramolecular structure by cleaving significant molecular lignocellulose bonds. The transformation from crystalline to amorphous cellulose shifted the thermal degradation profiles to lower temperatures. In addition, pretreated rice straw samples developed different microbiota profiles with different metabolic dynamics during the biomass degradation process. This is the first report to comprehensively characterize the structure, composition, and thermal degradation and microbiota profiles using the ECOMICS toolkit. By revealing differences between lignocellulosic supramolecular structures of biomass processed under different milling conditions, our analysis revealed how the characteristic compositions of microbiota profiles develop in addition to their metabolic profiles and dynamics during biomass degradation.

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