Submitted to: Gordon Research Conference Proceedings
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: May 9, 2003
Publication Date: N/A
Technical Abstract: Corn fiber, as obtained from a corn wet-milling plant, contains 70% carbohydrate (15% cellulose, 35% hemicellulose, and 20% residual starch). It can serve as a low cost feedstock for production of fuel ethanol and other value-added fermentation products. For this, the carbohydrates need to be broken down to simple sugars. Like any lignocellulosic material, pretreatment of corn fiber is essential before enzymatic hydrolysis. This presentation gives an account of various pretreatment options and enzymes involved in cellulose and hemicellulose depolymerization in corn fiber. The hemicellulose in corn fiber is a complex hetero-arabinoxylan, and commercially available hemicellulase preparations do not effectively saccharify it. Our research dealing with the development of an effective pretreatment method and novel and improved microbial enzymes such as endo-glucanase, beta-glucosidase, endo-xylanase, beta-xylosidase, and alpha-L-arabinofuranosidase for efficient use in cellulose and hemicellulose saccharification will be presented. The biochemical properties, modes of action of these enzymes, and their synergistic role in corn fiber degradation are also presented. The current status and future prospects of developing an environmentally friendly process for cost-effective saccharification of waste and underutilized lignocellulosic agricultural residues to fermentable sugars will be highlighted.