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Keywords:

  • cell wall;
  • hydroxycinnamic acids;
  • lignin;
  • Miscanthus;
  • saccharification;
  • structural polysaccharides

Abstract

The composition and concentrations of cell wall polysaccharides and phenolic compounds were analyzed in mature stems of several Miscanthus genotypes, in comparison with switchgrass and reed (Arundo donax), and biomass characteristics were correlated with cell wall saccharification efficiency. The highest cellulose content was found in cell walls of M. sinensis‘Grosse Fontaine’ (55%) and in A. donax (47%) and lowest (about 32%) in M. sinensis‘Adagio’. There was little variation in lignin contents across M. sinensis samples (all about 22–24% of cell wall), however, Miscanthus×giganteus (M × g) cell walls contained about 28% lignin, reed – 23% and switchgrass – 26%. The highest ratios of cellulose/lignin and cellulose/xylan were in M. sinensis‘Grosse Fontaine’ across all samples tested. About the same total content of ester-bound phenolics was found in different Miscanthus genotypes (23–27 μg/mg cell wall), while reed cell walls contained 17 μg/mg cell wall and switchgrass contained a lower amount of ester-bound phenolics, about 15 μg/mg cell wall. Coumaric acid was a major phenolic compound ester-bound to cell walls in plants analyzed and the ratio of coumaric acid/ferulic acid varied from 2.1 to 4.3, with the highest ratio being in M × g samples. Concentration of ether-bound hydroxycinnamic acids varied greatly (about two-three-fold) within Miscanthus genotypes and was also the highest in M × g cell walls, but at a concentration lower than ester-bound hydroxycinnamic acids. We identified four different forms of diferulic acid esters bound to Miscanthus cell walls and their concentration and proportion varied in genotypes analyzed with the 5-5-coupled dimer being the predominant type of diferulate in most samples tested. The contents of lignin and ether-bound phenolics in the cell wall were the major determinants of the biomass degradation caused by enzymatic hydrolysis.