Redistribution of Xylan in Maize Cell Walls During Dilute Acid Pretreatment

Roman Brunecky, Todd Vinzant, Stephanie Porter, Bryon Donohoe, David Johnson, Michael Himmel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Developing processes for the conversion of biomass for use in transportation fuels production is becoming a critically important economic and engineering challenge. Dilute acid pretreatment is a promising technology for increasing the enzymatic digestibility of lignocellulosic biomass. However, a deeper understanding of the pretreatability of biomass is needed so that the rate of formation and yields of sugars can be increased. Xylan is an important hemicellulosic component of the plant cell wall and acts as a barrier to cellulose, essentially blocking cellulase action. To better understand xylan hydrolysis in corn stover, we have studied changes in the distribution of xylan caused by dilute acid pretreatment using correlative microscopy. A dramatic loss of xylan antibody signal from the center of the cell wall and an increase or retention of xylan at the plasma membrane interface and middle lamella of the cell were observed by confocal laser scanning microscopy (CLSM). We also observed a reduction in xylan fluorescence signal by CLSM that is generally consistent with the decrease in xylan content measured experimentally in the bulk sample, however, the compartmentalization of this xylan retention was not anticipated.
Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1537-1543
Number of pages7
JournalBiotechnology and Bioengineering
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2009

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-270-43689


  • biomass
  • confocal microscopy
  • corn stover
  • hemicellulose
  • lignin
  • pretreatment


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