Improved Sugar Yields from Biomass Sorghum Feedstocks: Comparing Low-Lignin Mutants and Pretreatment Chemistries

Nicholas Nagle, Edward Wolfrum, Bruno Godin, Scott Sattler, Richard Agneessens, Jerome Delcarte

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus Citations

Abstract

Background: For biofuel production processes to be economically efficient, it is essential to maximize the production of monomeric carbohydrates from the structural carbohydrates of feedstocks. One strategy for maximizing carbohydrate production is to identify less recalcitrant feedstock cultivars by performing some type of experimental screening on a large and diverse set of candidate materials, or by identifying genetic modifications (random or directed mutations or transgenic plants) that provide decreased recalcitrance. Economic efficiency can also be increased using additional pretreatment processes such as deacetylation, which uses dilute NaOH to remove the acetyl groups of hemicellulose prior to dilute acid pretreatment. In this work, we used a laboratory-scale screening tool that mimics relevant thermochemical pretreatment conditions to compare the total sugar yield of three near-isogenic brown midrib (bmr) mutant lines and the wild-type (WT) sorghum cultivar. We then compared results obtained from the laboratory-scale screening pretreatment assay to a large-scale pretreatment system. Results: After pretreatment and enzymatic hydrolysis, the bmr mutants had higher total sugar yields than the WT sorghum cultivar. Increased pretreatment temperatures increased reactivity for all sorghum samples reducing the differences observed at lower reaction temperatures. Deacetylation prior to dilute acid pretreatment increased the total sugar yield for all four sorghum samples, and reduced the differences in total sugar yields among them, but solubilized a sizable fraction of the non-structural carbohydrates. The general trends of increased total sugar yield in the bmr mutant compared to the WT seen at the laboratory scale were observed at the large-scale system. However, in the larger reactor system, the measured total sugar yields were lower and the difference in total sugar yield between the WT and bmr sorghum was larger. Conclusions: Sorghum bmr mutants, which have a reduced lignin content showed higher total sugar yields than the WT cultivar after dilute acid pretreatment and enzymatic hydrolysis. Deacetylation prior to dilute acid pretreatment increased the total sugar yield for all four sorghum samples. However, since deacetylation also solubilizes a large fraction of the non-structural carbohydrates, the ability to derive value from these solubilized sugars will depend greatly on the proposed conversion process.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number251
Number of pages11
JournalBiotechnology for Biofuels
Volume9
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2016.

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5100-67543

Keywords

  • Biofuels
  • Brown midrib
  • Pretreatment
  • Sorghum bicolor
  • Total sugar yield

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