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Forest Products Laboratory
One Gifford Pinchot Drive
Madison, WI 53726-2398
Phone: (608) 231-9200
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Title: Lignocellulose pretreatment in a fungus-cultivating termite

Source: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 114(18): 4709-4714.

Author(s)Li, Hongjie; Yelle, Daniel J.; Li, Chang; Yang, Mengyi; Ke, Jing; Zhang, Ruijuan; Liu, Yu; Zhu, Na; Liang, Shiyou; Mo, Xiaochang; Ralph, John; Currie, Cameron R.; Mo, Jianchu

Publication Year: 2017  View PDF »

Category: Journal Articles
Associated Research Project(s):   FPL-4707-3B

Abstract: Depolymerizing lignin, the complex phenolic polymer fortifying plant cell walls, is an essential but challenging starting point for the lignocellulosics industries. The variety of ether– and carbon–carbon interunit linkages produced via radical coupling during lignification limit chemical and biological depolymerization efficiency. In an ancient fungus-cultivating termite system, we reveal unprecedentedly rapid lignin depolymerization and degradation by combining laboratory feeding experiments, lignocellulosic compositional measurements, electron microscopy, 2D-NMR, and thermochemolysis. In a gut transit time of under 3.5 h, in young worker termites, poplar lignin sidechains are extensively cleaved and the polymer is significantly depleted, leaving a residue almost completely devoid of various condensed units that are traditionally recognized to be the most recalcitrant. Subsequently, the fungus-comb microbiome preferentially uses xylose and cleaves polysaccharides, thus facilitating final utilization of easily digestible oligosaccharides by old worker termites. This complementary symbiotic pretreatment process in the fungus-growing termite symbiosis reveals a previously unappreciated natural system for efficient lignocellulose degradation.

Keywords: Lignin; carbohydrate; NMR; symbiosis; age polyethism

Publication Review Process: Formally Refereed

File size: 3,072 kb(s)

Date posted: 10/06/2017

This publication is also viewable on Treesearch:  view
RITS Product ID: 88563
Current FPL Scientist associated with this product
Yelle, Daniel
Research Forest Products Technologist

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