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Keywords:

  • Straw decay;
  • white-rot;
  • digestibility improvement;
  • lignin biodegradation;
  • polysaccharide biodegradation;
  • phenolic acids;
  • lignin monomers

Abstract

Structural changes and resulting in-vitro dry matter digestibility (IVDMD) were determined during the course of solid-state fermentation of wheat straw using the lignin-degrading white-rot fungi Sporotrichum pulverulentum, Pycnoporus cinnabarinus and Cyathus stercoreus. The first fungus grew very rapidly on straw but degraded hemicelluloses and cellulose non-selectively resulting in very low IVDMD increases (50% after 35% weight loss). P. cinnabarinus and C. stercoreus preferentially degraded hemicelluloses achieving high improvements in IVDMD (maximum increase of 63 and 94%, respectively) with limited dry weight losses (12 and 18% after 7 and 13 days, respectively). The three fungi exhibited some selectivity among the individual hemicellulose components: O-acetyls were removed essentially at the same rate as xylan, while uronic acids accumulated as incubation proceeded. Conversely, the arabinose content decreased rapidly, especially with C. stercoreus and P. cinnabarinus, suggesting that removal of this pentose was partly responsible for digestibility improvement. Esterified phenolic acids were rapidly degraded during the first stages of decay by all three fungi although P. cinnabarinus and C. stercoreus degraded ferulic acid faster than p-coumaric acid. Lignin was preferentially degraded compared to polysaccharides by all three fungi. The amount of lignin removed, as determined by Klason, correlated well with IVDMD improvement (r=−0.97), while acid detergent lignin (ADL) showed a lower correlation (r=-0.86). Acidolysis yields of decayed lignin pointed to preferential degradation of β-O-4 ether linked units by the fungi. Syringyl units were removed faster than guaiacyl units only after 5 to 10% weight loss was obtained.