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  1. Lignin depolymerization to aromatic monomers with high yields and selectivity is essential for the economic feasibility of many lignin-valorization strategies within integrated biorefining processes. Importantly, the quality and properties of the lignin source play an essential role in impacting the conversion chemistry, yet this relationship between lignin properties and lignin susceptibility to depolymerization is not well established. In this study, we quantitatively demonstrate how the detrimental effect of a pretreatment process on the properties of lignins, particularly β-O-4 content, limit high yields of aromatic monomers using three lignin depolymerization approaches: thioacidolysis, hydrogenolysis, and oxidation. Through pH-based fractionation of alkali-solubilized lignin from hybrid poplar, this study demonstrates that the properties of lignin, namely β-O-4 linkages, phenolic hydroxyl groups, molecular weight, and S/G ratios exhibit strong correlations with each other even after pretreatment. Furthermore, the differences in these properties lead to discernible trends in aromatic monomer yields using the three depolymerization techniques. Based on the interdependency of alkali lignin properties and its susceptibility to depolymerization, a model for the prediction of monomer yields was developed and validated for depolymerization by quantitative thioacidolysis. These results highlight the importance of the lignin properties for their suitability for an ether-cleaving depolymerization process, since the theoreticalmore »monomer yields grows as a second order function of the β-O-4 content. Therefore, this research encourages and provides a reference tool for future studies to identify new methods for lignin-first biomass pretreatment and lignin valorization that emphasize preservation of lignin qualities, apart from focusing on optimization of reaction conditions and catalyst selection.« less
  2. A woody dicot (hybrid poplar), an herbaceous dicot (goldenrod), and a graminaceous monocot (corn stover) were subjected to alkaline hydrogen peroxide (AHP) pretreatment and subsequent enzymatic hydrolysis in order to assess how taxonomically and structurally diverse biomass feedstocks respond to a mild alkaline oxidative pretreatment and how differing features of the cell wall matrix contribute to its recalcitrance. Using glycome profiling, we determined changes in the extractability of non-cellulosic glucans following pretreatment by screening extracts of the pretreated walls with a panel of 155 cell wall glycan-directed monoclonal antibodies to determine differences in the abundance and distribution of non-cellulosic glycan epitopes in these extracts and assess pretreatment-induced changes in the structural integrity of the cell wall. Two taxonomically-dependent outcomes of pretreatment were identified that both improved the subsequent enzymatic hydrolysis yields but differed in their impacts on cell wall structural integrity. Specifically, it was revealed that goldenrod walls exhibited decreases in all classes of alkali-extractable glycans indicating their solubilization during pretreatment, which was accompanied by an improvement in the subsequent extractability of the remaining cell wall glycans. The corn stover walls did not show the same decreases in glycan abundance in extracts following pretreatment, but rather mild increases in allmore »classes of cell wall glycans, indicating overall weaker associations between cell wall polymers and improved extractability. The hybrid poplar walls were relatively unaffected by pretreatment in terms of composition, enzymatic hydrolysis, and the extractability of cell wall glycans due presumably to their higher lignin content and denser vascular structure.« less