Reducing the Effect of Variable Starch Levels in Biomass Recalcitrance Screening

Stephen R. Decker, Melissa Carlile, Michael J. Selig, Crissa Doeppke, Mark Davis, Robert Sykes, Geoffrey Turner, Angela Ziebell

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

28 Scopus Citations


Cell wall recalcitrance is the largest contributor to the high expense of lignocellulose conversion to biofuels (Himmel ME et al., Science 315:804-807, 2007). In response to this problem, researchers at the BioEnergy Science Center (BESC) are working to determine the contributing factors of biomass recalcitrance. The primary approach to this is screening large sample sets of genetic and environmental variants of model and feedstock plant species for differences in recalcitrance to combined hydrothermal pretreatment and enzymatic hydrolysis (Decker S et al., BioEnergy Res 2:179-192, 2009). To handle these large sample sets (up to several thousand samples per set), the BESC has developed high throughput screening systems to evaluate both cell wall composition and recalcitrance (Selig MJ et al., Biotechnol Lett 33:961-967, 2011; Selig MJ et al., Ind Biotechnol 6, 104-111, 2010). Molecular beam mass spectroscopy and high throughput, 2-stage acid hydrolysis are used to determine amounts and ratios of cell wall components such as lignin, cellulose, and xylan. Recalcitrance is measured by glucose and xylose release after high throughput hydrothermal pretreatment and enzymatic saccharification, screening large numbers (up to 1,000 s per week) of biomass samples (Selig MJ et al., Ind Biotechnol 6, 104-111, 2010; Sykes R et al., Methods Mol Biol 581, 169-183, 2009). Implementation of these high throughput techniques revealed additional concerns when screening biomass samples for recalcitrance, principal among these was the contribution of starch to glucose release quantitation in both compositional analysis and recalcitrance screening.

Original languageAmerican English
Title of host publicationBiomass Conversion
Subtitle of host publicationMethods and Protocols
EditorsMichael Himmel
Number of pages15
StatePublished - 2012

Publication series

NameMethods in Molecular Biology
ISSN (Print)1064-3745

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/CH-2700-52557


  • Biomass recalcitrance
  • Composition analysis
  • High throughput screening
  • Plant cell walls
  • Starch


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