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Sci Rep. 2014 Jan 20;4:3756. doi: 10.1038/srep03756.

Multiscale deconstruction of molecular architecture in corn stover.

Author information

1
Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Northeastern University, Boston, MA 02115.
2
National Synchrotron Light Source, Brookhaven National Laboratory, Upton, NY 11973.
3
GM/CA CAT, XSD, Advanced Photon Source, Argonne National Laboratory, Argonne, IL 60439.
4
X-ray Science Division, Advanced Photon Source, Argonne National Laboratory, Argonne, IL 60439.
5
Department of Biology, Northeastern University, 360 Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA 02115.
6
Department of Physics, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY, 12180.
7
Chemical and Biosciences Center, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Golden, CO, 80401.
8
1] Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Northeastern University, Boston, MA 02115 [2] Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, Northeastern University, Boston, MA 02115.

Abstract

Lignocellulosic composite in corn stover is a candidate biofuel feedstock of substantial abundance and sustainability. Its utilization is hampered by resistance of constituent cellulose fibrils to deconstruction. Here we use multi-scale studies of pretreated corn stover to elucidate the molecular mechanism of deconstruction and investigate the basis of recalcitrance. Dilute acid pretreatment has modest impact on fibrillar bundles at 0.1 micron length scales while leading to significant disorientation of individual fibrils. It disintegrates many fibrils into monomeric cellulose chains or small side-by-side aggregates. Residual crystalline fibrils lose amorphous surface material, change twist and where still cross-linked, coil around one another. Yields from enzymatic digestion are largely due to hydrolysis of individual cellulose chains and fragments generated during pretreatments. Fibrils that remain intact after pretreatment display substantial resistance to enzymatic digestion. Optimization of yield will require strategies that maximize generation of fragments and minimize preservation of intact cellulosic fibrils.

PMID:
24441444
PMCID:
PMC3895879
DOI:
10.1038/srep03756
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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