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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


item Akin, Danny
item Rigsby, Luanne - Lowe
item Henriksson, G
item Eriksson, K-e

Submitted to: Textile Research Journal
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/10/1997
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: N/A

Interpretive Summary: Growth in the use of flax for textiles, and subsequently development of a US flax/linen industry, is limited by ineffective retting. Retting is the process by which fibers are isolated from the plant stem. Studies were conducted that showed newly isolated fungi have the potential to improve the effectively extracted textile fibers and may provide better commercial enzyme mixtures for retting. Results are important in providing for expanded opportunities to produce a new crop (fiber flax) in the US for the adding value to industrial fiber crops for the textile industry.

Technical Abstract: Rhizomucor pusillus and Fusarium lateritium, isolated from flax dew-retted in South Caroline, and Epicoccus nigrum, isolated from flax dew-retted in the Netherlands, were evaluated for their structutal modifications of various cells in flax stems. Particularly, the effects on the fiber walls and bundles as related to retting were examined. All fungi were effective in degrading parenchyma tissues and in isolating fibers. However, F. lateritium and particularly E. nigrum also degraded the fiber cell walls including the secondary layers, indicating the potential for over-retting and reduction of fiber strength. In contrast, R. pusillus did not appear to attack the main portion of the secondary wall but degraded the most central portion of the fiber wall, thus expanding the fiber lumen. Extracellular enzymes produced by this fungus appeared to degrade effectively the middle lamellae, separating bundles into fibers. The lignified walls of the core cells were partially degraded by F. lateritium but not R. pusillus or E. nigrum. R. pusillus and E. nigrum appeared to partially degrade or alter the cuticular surface of the stem, possibly facilitating hyphal penetration to the internal tissues. These observations of structural alterations indicated that R. pusillus possessed the best retting capabilities. Results are interpreted in light of previous information on the enzymatic profile of these fungi.

Last Modified: 10/17/2017
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