Submitted to: United States-Japan Cooperative Program in Natural Resources
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/7/2003
Publication Date: 11/7/2003
Citation: AKIN, D.E. MICROSCOPIC ANALYSIS OF PLANT BIOMASS TOWARD VALUE-ADDED USES. PROCEEDINGS OF THE UNITED STATES-JAPAN COOPERATIVE PROGRAM IN NATURAL RESOURCES, 32ND ANNUAL MEETING. 2003. PP. 440-447. Interpretive Summary: Structural characteristics in flax stems impede the development of new retting methods and the development of standards for the flax . This invited paper provides an overview of research using a variety of microscopic methods to identify specific impediments and to monitor modifications towards goals of the research. Results are important in developing strategies for expanding the flax fiber industry.
Technical Abstract: Flax (Linum ustitatissimum L.) is the source of natural fibers that provides bio-based products for a variety of existing markets in textiles (linen), composites, and paper/pulp. Various aspects of light microscopy (i.e., bright-field, polarizing, and histochemistry), scanning and transmission electron microscopy, and microspectrophotometry were employed to define structural characteristics and the location of particular chemicals in flax as a basis for improved retting and for developing standards to judge quality. Pectinase-rich enzymes effectively separated fibers from shive; inclusion of calcium chelators improved retting efficiency and promoted the separation of the cuticularized epidermis from fibers. Fibernodes are particularly susceptible to cellulases present in the commercial enzyme mixtures, and their presence weakens the fiber. Structural data supported efforts to develop standards for judging fiber quality by providing data on fiber width and width distribution and trash (non-fiber) content in fibers.