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Variation in sugarcane biomass composition and enzymatic saccharification of leaves, internodes and roots.

  • Author(s): Mason, Patrick J
  • Furtado, Agnelo
  • Marquardt, Annelie
  • Hodgson-Kratky, Katrina
  • Hoang, Nam V
  • Botha, Frederik C
  • Papa, Gabriella
  • Mortimer, Jenny C
  • Simmons, Blake
  • Henry, Robert J
  • et al.
Abstract

Background

The composition of biomass determines its suitability for different applications within a biorefinery system. The proportion of the major biomass fractions (sugar, cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin) may vary in different sugarcane genotypes and growth environments and different parts of the plant. This study investigated the composition of mature and immature internodes, roots and mature leaves of sugarcane.

Results

Internodes were found to have a significantly larger alcohol-soluble component than leaves and roots. The primary difference between the immature and mature internodes was the ratio of soluble sugars. In mature tissues, sucrose content was significantly higher, whereas in immature internodal tissues there was lower sucrose and heightened concentrations of reducing sugars. Carbon (C) partitioning in leaf tissues was characterised by low levels of soluble components and high "other" and cell wall fractions. Root tissue had low ratios of soluble fractions relative to their cell wall contents, indicating a lack of storage of soluble carbon. There was no significant difference in the ratio of the major cell wall fractions between the major organ types. Characterisation of individual non-cellulosic monomers indicated leaf and root tissues had significantly higher arabinose and galactose fractions. Significantly larger proportions of syringyl lignin compounds and the hydroxycinnamic compound, p-coumaric acid were observed in mature internodal tissues compared to the other tissue types. Tissue-specific differences in composition were shown to greatly affect the recalcitrance of the cell wall to enzymatic saccharification.

Conclusions

Overall, this study displayed clear evidence of the differential partitioning of C throughout the sugarcane plant in specific organs. These organ-specific differences have major implications in their utility as a bioproduct feedstock. For example, the inclusion of trash (leaves) with the culms (internodes) may alter processing efficiency.

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