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Main lipophilic extractives in different paper pulp types can be removed using the laccase–mediator system


Lipophilic extractives in wood and other lignocellulosic materials exert a negative impact in pulp and paper manufacturing causing the so-called pitch problems. In this work, the appropriateness of an enzymatic treatment using the laccase–mediator system for pitch biocontrol is evaluated. With this purpose, three pulp types representative for different raw materials and pulping processes—eucalypt kraft pulping, spruce thermomechanical pulping, and flax soda-anthraquinone pulping—were treated with a high-redox-potential laccase from the basidiomycete Pycnoporus cinnabarinus in the presence of 1-hydroxybenzotriazole as a redox mediator. The gas chromatography and gas chromatography/mass spectrometry analyses of the lipophilic extractives from the enzymatically treated pulps revealed that the laccase–mediator treatment completely or greatly removed most of the pitch-causing lipophilic compounds present in the different pulps including: (1) free and conjugated sitosterol in eucalypt paper pulp; (2) resin acids, sterol esters, and triglycerides in spruce pulp; and (3) sterols and fatty alcohols in the flax pulp. Different amounts of free and conjugated 7-oxosterols were found as intermediate products in the oxidation of pulp sterols. Therefore, the laccase–mediator treatment is reported as an efficient method for removing pitch-causing lipophilic compounds from paper pulps obtained from hardwood, softwood, and nonwoody plants.

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This study has been funded by the Spanish projects AGL2002-393 and BIO2002-1166, the EU projects QLK5-99-1357 and QLK3-99-590, and by ENCE-CSIC contracts. Marcel Asther from INRA (Marseille, France) is acknowledged for the P. cinnabarinus strain, and Jacques Georis from Beldem (Andenne, Belgium) is acknowledged for laccase production. Javier Romero from ENCE (Pontevedra, Spain) is acknowledged for the eucalypt pulp samples. Kaisa Herranen from UPM-Kymmene (Valkeakoski, Finland) is acknowledged for the spruce TMP pulp. Josep M. Gras from CELESA (Tortosa, Spain) and Teresa Vidal from UPC (Terrassa, Spain) are acknowledged for flax pulp samples. D.I. and J.R. thank the Spanish CSIC for I3P Fellowships.

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Correspondence to A. Gutiérrez.

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Gutiérrez, A., del Río, J.C., Rencoret, J. et al. Main lipophilic extractives in different paper pulp types can be removed using the laccase–mediator system. Appl Microbiol Biotechnol 72, 845–851 (2006). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00253-006-0346-1

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  • Fatty Alcohol
  • Sitosterol
  • Sterol Ester
  • Free Sterol
  • Mediator System