Biorefining Potential of Wild-Grown Arundo donax, Cortaderia selloana and Phragmites australis and the Feasibility of White-Rot Fungi-Mediated Pretreatments

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Type Article
Original languageEnglish
Article number679966
Number of pages20
JournalFrontiers in Plant Science
Volume12
DOI
Publication statusPublished - 02 Jul 2021
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Abstract

Arundo donax, Cortaderia selloana and Phragmites australis are high-biomass-producing perennial Poalean species that grow abundantly and spontaneously in warm temperate regions, such as in Mediterranean-type climates, like those of Southern Europe, Western United States coastal areas, or in regions of South America, South Africa and Australia. Given their vigorous and spontaneous growth, biomass from the studied grasses often accumulates excessively in unmanaged agro-forestry areas. Nonetheless, this also creates the demand and opportunity for the valorisation of these biomass sources, particularly their cell wall polymers, for biorefining applications. By contrast, a related crop, Miscanthus × giganteus, is a perennial grass that has been extensively studied for lignocellulosic biomass production, as it can grow on low-input agricultural systems in colder climates. In this study Fourier transform mid-infrared spectroscopy (FTIR), high-performance anion-exchange chromatography (HPAEC) and lignin content determinations were used for a comparative compositional characterisation of A. donax, C. selloana and P. australis harvested from the wild, in relation to a trial field-grown M. × giganteus high-yielding genotype. A high-throughput saccharification assay showed relatively high sugar release values from the wild-grown grasses, even with a 0.1M NaOH mild alkali pretreatment. In addition to this alkaline pretreatment, biomass was treated with white-rot fungi (WRF), which preferentially degrade lignin more readily than holocellulose. Three fungal species were used: Ganoderma lucidum, Pleurotus ostreatus and Trametes versicolor. Our results showed that neutral sugar contents are not significantly altered, while some lignin is lost during the pretreatments. Furthermore, sugar release upon enzymatic saccharification was enhanced, and this was dependent on the plant biomass and fungal species used in the treatment. To maximise the potential for lignocellulose valorisation, the liquid fractions from the pretreatments were analysed by high performance liquid chromatography – photodiode array detection – electrospray ionisation tandem mass spectrometry (HPLC-PDA-ESI-MSn). This study is one of the first to report on the composition of WRF-treated grass biomass, while assessing the potential relevance of breakdown products released during the treatments, beyond more traditional sugar-for-energy applications. Ultimately, we expect that our data will help promote the valorisation of unused biomass resources, create economic value, while contributing to the implementation of sustainable biorefining systems.

Keywords

  • Arundo donax, biomass, cell wall, Cortaderia selloana, marginal lands, Miscanthus × giganteus, Phragmites australis, white-rot fungi

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