Physicochemical Changes of Cellulose and Their Influences on Populus trichocarpa Digestibility after Different Pretreatments

Lan Yao, Chang Geun Yoo, Yunqiao Pu, Xianzhi Meng, Wellington Muchero, Gerald A. Tuskan, Timothy J. Tschaplinski, Arthur J. Ragauskas, Haitao Yang


Pretreatment is commonly used to reduce recalcitrance of the lignin-carbohydrate matrix. In this study, leading pretreatment technologies, including dilute sulfuric acid, liquid hot water, alkaline, and organosolv pretreatments, were applied to the selected Populus trichocarpa genotype with relatively low lignin content to elucidate cellulose physicochemical property changes and digestibility-related factors. Pretreated Populus trichocarpa (BESC 131) exhibited higher accessibility and glucose yield than the untreated biomass. Chemical composition and Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) analysis results revealed that hemicellulose and lignin were removed to a varying extent depending on the pretreatment techniques applied. The degree of polymerization of the cellulose was decreased to the largest extent after dilute acid pretreatment, followed by organosolv, alkaline, and liquid hot water pretreatments. Cellulose crystallinity index was slightly changed after the pretreatments; however, its differences were not remarkable between those pretreatment techniques. Among four different pretreatments, organosolv was the most effective pretreatment technology in terms of sugar release, which was three times higher than that of the untreated native biomass. Among all of the tested cell wall traits, the lignin content of Populus trichocarpa was the most remarkable feature associated with glucose release, though Populus trichocarpa recalcitrance was not solely dependent on any single factor.


Populus trichocarpa; Dilute acid pretreatment; Liquid hot water pretreatment; Alkali pretreatment; Organosolv pretreatment; Cellulose characterization

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