Can Delignification Decrease Cellulose Digestibility in Acid Pretreated Corn Stover?

Claudia I. Ishizawa, Tina Jeoh, William S. Adney, Michael E. Himmel, David K. Johnson, Mark F. Davis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

129 Scopus Citations


It has previously been shown that the improved digestibility of dilute acid pretreated corn stover is at least partially due to the removal of xylan and the consequent increase in accessibility of the cellulose to cellobiohydrolase enzymes. We now report on the impact that lignin removal has on the accessibility and digestibility of dilute acid pretreated corn stover. Samples of corn stover were subjected to dilute sulfuric acid pretreatment with and without simultaneous (partial) lignin removal. In addition, some samples were completely delignified after the pretreatment step using acidified sodium chlorite. The accessibility and digestibility of the samples were tested using a fluorescence-labeled cellobiohydrolase (Trichoderma reesei Cel7A) purified from a commercial cellulase preparation. Partial delignification of corn stover during dilute acid pretreatment was shown to improve cellulose digestibility by T. reesei Cel7A; however, decreasing the lignin content below 5% (g g-1) by treatment with acidified sodium chlorite resulted in a dramatic reduction in cellulose digestibility. Importantly, this effect was found to be enhanced in samples with lower xylan contents suggesting that the near complete removal of xylan and lignin may cause aggregation of the cellulose microfibrils resulting in decreased cellulase accessibility.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)677-686
Number of pages10
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2009

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-270-43824


  • Accessibility
  • Corn stover
  • Digestibility
  • Lignin
  • Pretreatment
  • Trichoderma reesei


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