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Supramolecular Self-Assembled Chaos: Polyphenolic Lignin’s Barrier to Cost-Effective Lignocellulosic Biofuels

1
Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI), Emeryville, CA 94550, USA
2
Sandia National Laboratories, Albuquerque, NM 87185, USA
3
Biology Department, Northern New Mexico College, Espanola, NM 87532, USA
4
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA
5
Sandia National Laboratories, Livermore, CA 94550, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Molecules 2010, 15(12), 8641-8688; https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules15118641
Received: 15 October 2010 / Revised: 22 November 2010 / Accepted: 25 November 2010 / Published: 29 November 2010
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Phenolics and Polyphenolics)
Phenylpropanoid metabolism yields a mixture of monolignols that undergo chaotic, non-enzymatic reactions such as free radical polymerization and spontaneous self-assembly in order to form the polyphenolic lignin which is a barrier to cost-effective lignocellulosic biofuels. Post-synthesis lignin integration into the plant cell wall is unclear, including how the hydrophobic lignin incorporates into the wall in an initially hydrophilic milieu. Self-assembly, self-organization and aggregation give rise to a complex, 3D network of lignin that displays randomly branched topology and fractal properties. Attempts at isolating lignin, analogous to archaeology, are instantly destructive and non-representative of in planta. Lack of plant ligninases or enzymes that hydrolyze specific bonds in lignin-carbohydrate complexes (LCCs) also frustrate a better grasp of lignin. Supramolecular self-assembly, nano-mechanical properties of lignin-lignin, lignin-polysaccharide interactions and association-dissociation kinetics affect biomass deconstruction and thereby cost-effective biofuels production. View Full-Text
Keywords: lignin; supramolecular self-assembly; cell wall; deconstruction; enzymes; LCC; fractal; lignocellulosic biofuels lignin; supramolecular self-assembly; cell wall; deconstruction; enzymes; LCC; fractal; lignocellulosic biofuels
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Achyuthan, K.E.; Achyuthan, A.M.; Adams, P.D.; Dirk, S.M.; Harper, J.C.; Simmons, B.A.; Singh, A.K. Supramolecular Self-Assembled Chaos: Polyphenolic Lignin’s Barrier to Cost-Effective Lignocellulosic Biofuels. Molecules 2010, 15, 8641-8688.

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