Hemicellulose binding and the spacing of cellulose microfibrils in spruce wood

Thomas, L. H., Martel, A., Grillo, I. and Jarvis, M. C. (2020) Hemicellulose binding and the spacing of cellulose microfibrils in spruce wood. Cellulose, 27, pp. 4249-4254. (doi: 10.1007/s10570-020-03091-z)

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Cellulose microfibrils in conifers, as in other woody materials, are aggregated into loose bundles called macrofibrils. The centre-to-centre spacing of the microfibrils within these macrofibrils can be estimated from the position of a broad diffraction peak in small-angle neutron scattering (SANS) after deuteration. A known spacing of 3.0 nm, increasing with moisture content, is consistent with direct microfibril to microfibril contact. However recent evidence indicates that conifer microfibrils are partially coated with bound xylan chains, and possibly with lignin and galactoglucomannan, implying a wider centre-to-centre spacing as found in angiosperm wood. Delignification of spruce wood allowed a weak SANS peak to be observed without measurable change in spacing. By deuterating spruce wood in mildly alkaline D2O and then re-equilibrating with ambient H2O, deuterium atoms were trapped in a position that gave a 3.8 nm microfibril spacing under dry conditions as in angiosperm wood, instead of the 3.0 nm spacing normally observed in conifers. After conventional vapour deuteration of spruce wood a minor peak at 3.8 nm could be fitted in addition to the 3.0 nm peak. These observations are consistent with some microfibril segments being separated by bound xylan chains as in angiosperms, in addition to the microfibril segments that are in direct contact.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Jarvis, Dr Michael and Thomas, Dr Lynne
Authors: Thomas, L. H., Martel, A., Grillo, I., and Jarvis, M. C.
College/School:College of Science and Engineering > School of Chemistry
Journal Name:Cellulose
ISSN (Online):1572-882X
Published Online:21 March 2020
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2020 The Authors
First Published:First published in Cellulose 27:4249-4254
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons licence

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