UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Natural acetylation impacts carbohydrate recovery during deconstruction of Populus trichocarpa wood Johnson, Amanda M; Kim, Hoon; Ralph, John; Mansfield, Shawn D


Background: Significant variation in the inherent degree of acetylation naturally exists in the xylem cell walls of Populus trichocarpa. During pretreatment, endogenous acetate hydrolyzes to acetic acid that can subsequently catalyze the breakdown of poplar wood, increasing the efficiency of biomass pretreatment. Results Poplar genotypes varying in cell wall composition were pretreated in 0.3% H2SO4 in non-isothermal batch reactors. Acetic acid released from the wood was positively related to sugar release during pretreatment (R ≥ 0.9), and inversely proportional to the lignin content of the poplar wood (R = 0.6). Conclusion There is significant variation in wood chemistry among P. trichocarpa genotypes. This study elucidated patterns of cell wall deconstruction and clearly links carbohydrate solubilization to acetate release. Tailoring biomass feedstocks for acetate release could enhance pretreatment efficiencies.

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