Quantification of Lignin and Its Structural Features in Plant Biomass Using 13C Lignin as Internal Standard for Pyrolysis-GC-SIM-MS.
ABSTRACT: Understanding the mechanisms underlying plant biomass recalcitrance at the molecular level can only be achieved by accurate analyses of both the content and structural features of the molecules involved. Current quantification of lignin is, however, majorly based on unspecific gravimetric analysis after sulfuric acid hydrolysis. Hence, our research aimed at specific lignin quantification with concurrent characterization of its structural features. Hereto, for the first time, a polymeric 13C lignin was used as internal standard (IS) for lignin quantification via analytical pyrolysis coupled to gas chromatography with mass-spectrometric detection in selected ion monitoring mode (py-GC-SIM-MS). In addition, relative response factors (RRFs) for the various pyrolysis products obtained were determined and applied. First, 12C and 13C lignin were isolated from nonlabeled and uniformly 13C labeled wheat straw, respectively, and characterized by heteronuclear single quantum coherence (HSQC), nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR), and py-GC/MS. The two lignin isolates were found to have identical structures. Second, 13C-IS based lignin quantification by py-GC-SIM-MS was validated in reconstituted biomass model systems with known contents of the 12C lignin analogue and was shown to be extremely accurate (>99.9%, R2 > 0.999) and precise (RSD < 1.5%). Third, 13C-IS based lignin quantification was applied to four common poaceous biomass sources (wheat straw, barley straw, corn stover, and sugar cane bagasse), and lignin contents were in good agreement with the total gravimetrically determined lignin contents. Our robust method proves to be a promising alternative for the high-throughput quantification of lignin in milled biomass samples directly and simultaneously provides a direct insight into the structural features of lignin.
Project description:Background:The white-rot fungi Ceriporiopsis subvermispora (Cs), Pleurotus eryngii (Pe), and Lentinula edodes (Le) have been shown to be high-potential species for selective delignification of plant biomass. This delignification improves polysaccharide degradability, which currently limits the efficient lignocellulose conversion into biochemicals, biofuels, and animal feed. Since selectivity and time efficiency of fungal delignification still need optimization, detailed understanding of the underlying mechanisms at molecular level is required. The recently developed methodologies for lignin quantification and characterization now allow for the in-depth mapping of fungal modification and degradation of lignin and, thereby, enable resolving underlying mechanisms. Results:Wheat straw treated by two strains of Cs (Cs1 and Cs12), Pe (Pe3 and Pe6) and Le (Le8 and Le10) was characterized using semi-quantitative py-GC-MS during fungal growth (1, 3, and 7 weeks). The remaining lignin after 7 weeks was quantified and characterized using 13C lignin internal standard based py-GC-MS and whole cell wall HSQC NMR. Strains of the same species showed similar patterns of lignin removal and degradation. Cs and Le outperformed Pe in terms of extent and selectivity of delignification (Cs???Le?>>?Pe). The highest lignin removal [66% (w/w); Cs1] was obtained after 7 weeks, without extensive carbohydrate degradation (factor 3 increased carbohydrate-to-lignin ratio). Furthermore, though after treatment with Cs and Le comparable amounts of lignin remained, the structure of the residual lignin vastly differed. For example, C?-oxidized substructures accumulated in Cs treated lignin up to 24% of the total aromatic lignin, a factor two higher than in Le-treated lignin. Contrarily, ferulic acid substructures were preferentially targeted by Le (and Pe). Interestingly, Pe-spent lignin was specifically depleted of tricin (40% reduction). The overall subunit composition (H:G:S) was not affected by fungal treatment. Conclusions:Cs and Le are both able to effectively and selectively delignify wheat straw, though the underlying mechanisms are fundamentally different. We are the first to identify that Cs degrades the major ?-O-4 ether linkage in grass lignin mainly via C?-O-aryl cleavage, while C?-C? cleavage of inter-unit linkages predominated for Le. Our research provides a new insight on how fungi degrade lignin, which contributes to further optimizing the biological upgrading of lignocellulose.
Project description:Pyrolysis has attracted growing interest as a versatile means to convert biomass into valuable products. Wheat straw has been considered to be a promising biomass resource due to its low price and easy availability. However, most of the products obtained from wheat straw pyrolysis are usually of low quality. Hot soda extraction has the advantage of selective dissolution of lignin whilst retaining the carbohydrates. This can selectively convert biomass into high-quality desired products and suppress the formation of undesirable products. The aim of this study was to investigate the pyrolysis properties of wheat straw under different hot caustic pretreatment conditions.Compared with the untreated straw, a greater amount of gas was released and fewer residues were retained in the extracted wheat straw, which was caused by an increase in porosity. When the NaOH loading was 14%, the average pore size of the extracted straw increased by 12% and the cumulative pore volume increased by 157% compared with the untreated straw. The extracted straw obtained from the 14% NaOH extraction was clearly selective for pyrolysis products. On one hand, many lignin pyrolysis products disappeared, and only four main lignin-unit-pyrolysis products were retained. On the other hand, polysaccharide pyrolysis products were enriched. Both propanone and furfural have outstanding peak intensities that could account for approximately 30% of the total pyrolysis products. However, with the excessive addition of NaOH (i.e. >?22% w/w) during pretreatment, the conversion of bio-gas products decreased. Thermogravimetric and low-temperature nitrogen-adsorption analysis showed that the pore structure had been seriously destroyed, leading to the closing of the release paths of the bio-gas and thus increasing the re-polymerisation of small bio-gas molecules.After suitable extraction (14% NaOH loading extraction), a considerable amount (25%) of the soluble components dissolved out of the straw. This resulted in an increase in both pore size and volume. This condition appeared to be optimally selective for the release of value-added pyrolysis products such as furfural, ketones and lignin monomer units. However, excessive addition of alkali (22%) for extraction could change the original interior structure, resulting in a decrease in both pore size and volume. This interior structure modification limited the release of pyrolysis products, and greater carbonisation occurred.
Project description:The valorization of lignin that derives as by product in various biomass conversion processes has become a major research and technological objective. The potential of the production of valuable mono-aromatics (BTX and others) and (alkyl)phenols by catalytic fast pyrolysis of lignin is investigated in this work by the use of ZSM-5 zeolites with different acidic and porosity characteristics. More specifically, conventional microporous ZSM-5 (Si/Al = 11.5, 25, 40), nano-sized (?20 nm, by direct synthesis) and mesoporous (9 nm, by mild alkaline treatment) ZSM-5 zeolites were tested in the fast pyrolysis of a softwood kraft lignin at 400-600°C on a Py/GC-MS system and a fixed-bed reactor unit. The composition of lignin (FT-IR, 2D HSQC NMR) was correlated with the composition of the thermal (non-catalytic) pyrolysis oil, while the effect of pyrolysis temperature and catalyst-to-lignin (C/L) ratio, as well as of the Si/Al ratio, acidity, micro/mesoporosity and nano-size of ZSM-5, on bio-oil composition was thoroughly investigated. It was shown that the conventional microporous ZSM-5 zeolites are more selective toward mono-aromatics while the nano-sized and mesoporous ZSM-5 exhibited also high selectivity for (alkyl)phenols. However, the nano-sized ZSM-5 zeolite exhibited the lowest yield of organic bio-oil and highest production of water, coke and non-condensable gases compared to the conventional microporous and mesoporous ZSM-5 zeolites.
Project description:Background:The ascomycete fungus Podospora anserina has been appreciated for its targeted carbohydrate-active enzymatic arsenal. As a late colonizer of herbivorous dung, the fungus acts specifically on the more recalcitrant fraction of lignocellulose and this lignin-rich biotope might have resulted in the evolution of ligninolytic activities. However, the lignin-degrading abilities of the fungus have not been demonstrated by chemical analyses at the molecular level and are, thus far, solely based on genome and secretome predictions. To evaluate whether P. anserina might provide a novel source of lignin-active enzymes to tap into for potential biotechnological applications, we comprehensively mapped wheat straw lignin during fungal growth and characterized the fungal secretome. Results:Quantitative 13C lignin internal standard py-GC-MS analysis showed substantial lignin removal during the 7 days of fungal growth (24% w/w), though carbohydrates were preferably targeted (58% w/w removal). Structural characterization of residual lignin by using py-GC-MS and HSQC NMR analyses demonstrated that C?-oxidized substructures significantly increased through fungal action, while intact ?-O-4' aryl ether linkages, p-coumarate and ferulate moieties decreased, albeit to lesser extents than observed for the action of basidiomycetes. Proteomic analysis indicated that the presence of lignin induced considerable changes in the secretome of P. anserina. This was particularly reflected in a strong reduction of cellulases and galactomannanases, while H2O2-producing enzymes clearly increased. The latter enzymes, together with laccases, were likely involved in the observed ligninolysis. Conclusions:For the first time, we provide unambiguous evidence for the ligninolytic activity of the ascomycete fungus P. anserina and expand the view on its enzymatic repertoire beyond carbohydrate degradation. Our results can be of significance for the development of biological lignin conversion technologies by contributing to the quest for novel lignin-active enzymes and organisms.
Project description:Wheat straw based composting generates a selective substrate for mushroom production. The first phase of this process requires 5 days, and a reduction in time is wished. Here, we aim at understanding the effect of gypsum on the duration of the first phase and the mechanism behind it. Hereto, the regular process with gypsum addition and the same process without gypsum were studied during a 5-day period. The compost quality was evaluated based on compost lignin composition analysed by py-GC/MS and its degradability by a commercial (hemi-)cellulolytic enzyme cocktail. The composting phase lead to the decrease of the pyrolysis products 4-vinylphenol and 4-vinylguaiacol that can be associated with p-coumarates and ferulates linking xylan and lignin. In the regular compost, the enzymatic conversion reached 32 and 39% for cellulose, and 23 and 32% for xylan after 3 and 5 days, respectively. In absence of gypsum similar values were reached after 2 and 4 days, respectively. Thus, our data show that in absence of gypsum the desired compost quality was reached 20% earlier compared to the control process.
Project description:A fractionation method for technical lignin was developed, combining organic solvent extraction and membrane ultrafiltration of the solvent soluble component. This method was validated on a commercial wheat straw/Sarkanda grass lignin (Protobind 1000) using 2-butanone (MEK) as the solvent for both the extraction and the ultrafiltration operations. The parent lignin and the different obtained fractions were fully characterized in terms of chemical composition and physicochemical properties by gel permeation chromatography, gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS), pyrolysis-GC/MS, total phenol contents, 31P nuclear magnetic resonance (31P NMR), thermogravimetric analysis, differential scanning calorimetry analysis, and Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy. The results show that the proposed process allows a straightforward recovery of the different lignin fractions as well as a selective control over their molecular mass distribution and related dependent properties. Moreover, the operating flexibility of the Soxhlet/ultrafiltration process allows the treatment of lignins from different feedstocks using the same installation just by modulating the choice of the solvent and the membrane porosity with the best characteristics. This is one of the most important features of the proposed strategy, which represents a new fractionation approach with the potential to improve lignin valorization for materials science and preparative organic chemistry applications.
Project description:In modern biorefineries, low value lignin and hemicellulose fractions are produced as side streams. New extraction methods for their purification are needed in order to utilize the whole biomass more efficiently and to produce special target products. In several new applications using plant-based biomaterials, the native-type chemical and polymeric properties are desired. Especially, production of high-quality native-type lignin enables valorization of biomass entirely, thus making novel processes sustainable and economically viable. To investigate sulfur-free possibilities for so-called "lignin first" technologies, we compared alkaline organosolv, formic acid organosolv, and ionic liquid processes to simple soda "cooking" using wheat straw and aspen as raw materials. All experiments were carried out using microwave-assisted pulping approach to enable rapid heat transfer and convenient control of temperature and pressure. The main target was to evaluate the advantage of a brief hot water extraction as a pretreatment for the pulping process. Most of these novel pulping methods resulted in high-quality lignin, which may be valorized more diversely than kraft lignin. Lignin fractions were thoroughly analyzed with NMR (13C and HSQC) and gel permeation chromatography to study the quality of the collected lignin. The cellulose fractions were analyzed by determining their lignin contents and carbohydrate profiles for further utilization in cellulose-based products or biofuels.
Project description:Genetic engineering is a powerful tool to steer bio-oil composition towards the production of speciality chemicals such as guaiacols, syringols, phenols, and vanillin through well-defined biomass feedstocks. Our previous work demonstrated the effects of lignin biosynthesis gene modification on the pyrolysis vapour compositions obtained from wood derived from greenhouse-grown poplars. In this study, field-grown poplars downregulated in the genes encoding CINNAMYL ALCOHOL DEHYDROGENASE (CAD), CAFFEIC ACID O-METHYLTRANSFERASE (COMT) and CAFFEOYL-CoA O-METHYLTRANSFERASE (CCoAOMT), and their corresponding wild type were pyrolysed in a Py-GC/MS. This work aims at capturing the effects of downregulation of the three enzymes on bio-oil composition using principal component analysis (PCA). 3,5-methoxytoluene, vanillin, coniferyl alcohol, 4-vinyl guaiacol, syringol, syringaldehyde, and guaiacol are the determining factors in the PCA analysis that are the substantially affected by COMT, CAD and CCoAOMT enzyme downregulation. COMT and CAD downregulated transgenic lines proved to be statistically different from the wild type because of a substantial difference in S and G lignin units. The sCAD line lead to a significant drop (nearly 51%) in S-lignin derived compounds, while CCoAOMT downregulation affected the least (7-11%). Further, removal of extractives via pretreatment enhanced the statistical differences among the CAD transgenic lines and its wild type. On the other hand, COMT downregulation caused 2-fold reduction in S-derived compounds compared to G-derived compounds. This study manifests the applicability of PCA analysis in tracking the biological changes in biomass (poplar in this case) and their effects on pyrolysis-oil compositions.