Skip to main content
ARS Home » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #109761


item Akin, Danny
item Rigsby, Luanne - Lowe

Submitted to: Textile Research Journal
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/20/2001
Publication Date: 1/15/2002
Citation: Akin, D.E., Slomczynski, D., Rigsby, L.L., Eriksson, K.L. 2002. Retting of flax with endopolygalacturonase from rhizopus oryzae. Textile Research Journal; Vol 71(1), pp. 27-34.

Interpretive Summary: Flax offers the possibility of supplying a new crop, which has ready markets, to improve the rural economy of farmers in the US. However, improved retting, such as through the use of enzymes, is a requirement in order to produce fibers of high and uniform quality for use in blending flax fibers with cotton for textiles. Collaborative research between ARS-USDA and the University of Georgia showed that a single enzyme purifie from a dew-retting fungus was of paramount importance in retting and could potentially be used to improve enzyme retting. Research shows potential through biotechnology to improve the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of enzyme retting to bring new crops and new agricultural products to the US.

Technical Abstract: Rhizopus oryzae, which had been previously isolated from flax dew-retted in South Carolina, was used as the source of the purified endopolygalacturonase (EPG) used herein for retting flax stems. Production of EPG was optimized and scaled-up, and the enzyme was purified, characterized, and evaluated in in vitro retting tests alone or in combination with other enzymes. The Frieds Test, light microscopy, and fiber strength and fineness properties indicated that EPG alone (without additional enzymes) plus chelator gave retting efficiencies similar to enzyme mixtures, including commercial enzymes similar to Flaxzyme. The addition to EPG of pectin methyl esterase, pectin lyase, xylanase, or endoglucanase did not improve EPG's retting efficiency or improve strength and fineness properties of the retted flax fibers. Spray enzyme retting of a 50-g flax sample with EPG/chelator formulation produced retted flax fibers with similar properties of strength and fineness to those retted with a commercial enzyme mixture. Results indicate the paramount importance of EPG to retting and suggest an opportunity, through cloning technology, to produce a consistently effective but simplified enzyme formulation for flax retting.