Submitted to: Textile Research Journal
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/16/1996
Publication Date: N/A
Interpretive Summary: A major interest of ARS is to develop new and environmentally friendly processes to develop new products or for adding value to agricultural crops. Linen, which is a traditional product made from flax, is no longer produced in the US but is imported; the US has the highest per capita consumption of linen/flax products of the Western countries. The major limitation to efficient production of linen fiber from flax is retting, which is the process of isolating the fibers from the non-fibrous part of the stem. Improvement in retting would result in a more consistent fiber and would reduce costs, making the development of a linen industry in the US more favorable. Research in this paper showed that addition of particular chemical amendments with commercial pectin-degrading enzyme mixtures improved retting of flax. Results were important in showing the potential for improved retting at reduced costs and also provided information on a fundamental mechanism in the plant structure that limits efficient retting.
Technical Abstract: Addition of the chelating agents oxalic acid and ethylenediamine-tetra -acetic acid (EDTA) substantially increases the retting effect on flax of the commercial enzyme products Ultrazym and Flaxzyme (Novo Nordisk). The degradation of citrus peel was also increased by the addition of oxalic acid and EDTA, while citric acid had a low or insignificant effect. The positive effect of the chelators is most likely caused by the removal of Ca**2**+ that crosslinked pectins in the middle lamella, thus making the polysaccharide structure more accessible to enzymatic attack.