, Volume 163, Issue 4, pp 519-527
Date: 10 Sep 2010

Endpoint Fragmentation Index: A Method for Monitoring the Evolution of Microbial Degradation of Polysaccharide Feedstocks

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We describe a simple method for tracking the course of microbial degradation of polysaccharide-rich feedstocks. The method involves determining total polysaccharides present in the feedstock, measured in glucose equivalents, relative to the fractional component of polysaccharides exhibiting 2,3-dinitrosalycylic acid aldehyde activity. The ratio of total polysaccharide to aldehyde activity, defined as the end-point fragmentation (EPF) index, is then calculated and tracked as it shifts as microbial degradation of polysaccharide-rich feedstock progresses. While degradation occurs, the EPF index falls. It bottoms out at an asymptotic limit marking the point in time where further degradation of the polysaccharide-rich feedstock has ceased. The EPF index can be used to follow the progressive breakdown of composting polysaccharide-rich waste. It may also have applicability as a means of tracking the turnover of polysaccharides in other complex environments including soil, sediments, wetlands, and peat bogs.