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Assessment of Xylanase Activity in Dry Storage as a Potential Method of Reducing Feedstock Cost

Smith, William A., Thompson, David N., Thompson, Vicki S., Radtke, Corey W., Carter, Brady
Applied biochemistry and biotechnology 2009 v.154 no.1-3 pp. 108-122
cost effectiveness, enzyme activity, storage conditions, xylanases, biomass, lignocellulose, wheat, arabinoxylan, water content, sugars, relative humidity
Enzymatic preprocessing of lignocellulosic biomass in dry storage systems has the potential to improve feedstock characteristics and lower ethanol production costs. To assess the potential for endoxylanase activity at low water contents, endoxylanase activity was tested using a refined wheat arabinoxylan substrate and three commercial endoxylanases over the water activity range 0.21-1.0, corresponding to water contents of 5% to >60% (dry basis). Homogeneously mixed dry samples were prepared at a fixed enzyme to substrate ratio and incubated in chambers at a variety of fixed water activities. Replicates were sacrificed periodically, and endoxylanase activity was quantified as an increase in reducing sugar relative to desiccant-stored controls. Endoxylanase activity was observed at water activities over 0.91 in all enzyme preparations in less than 4 days and at a water activity of 0.59 in less than 1 week in two preparations. Endoxylanase activity after storage was confirmed for selected desiccant-stored controls by incubation at 100% relative humidity. Water content to water activity relationships were determined for three lignocellulosic substrates, and results indicate that two endoxylanase preparations retained limited activity as low as 7% to 13% water content (dry basis), which is well within the range of water contents representative of dry biomass storage. Future work will examine the effects of endoxylanase activity toward substrates such as corn stover, wheat straw, and switchgrass in low water content environments.