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Plant factors influencing enzyme retting of fiber and seed flax

Akin, D.E., Morrison, W.H. III., Rigsby, L.L., Dodd, R.B.
Journal of agricultural and food chemistry 2001 v.49 no.12 pp. 5778-5784
cutin, retting, stems, polygalacturonase, varieties, plant cuticle, fiber quality, width, lignin, flax
Retting, which is the microbial activity through which bast fibers are released from nonfiber tissues, is the limiting factor in flax processing. The objective of this work is to identify chemical and structural characteristics in a variety of fiber and seed flax types that influence enzyme retting in a recently developed method. Analyses of flax retted in a series of tests, including two enzyme rettings in some cases, indicated that lignin did not limit the separation of fibers from shive and showed that pectinases in enzyme-retting mixtures could ret fiber and seed flax. However, mature stems, such as that in flax produced for seed, had greater amounts of cutin and wax in the cleaned fiber product, suggesting that the cuticle could be a greater antiquality factor in seed versus fiber flax. With seed flax, the fraction of finer fibers produced during retting was significantly lower than with fiber flax. Results indicated that enzyme retting could be used to obtain flax fibers from seed flax stem residues and add value to this agricultural material.