Identification and quantification of radical reaction intermediates by electron spin resonance spectrometry of laccase-catalyzed oxidation of wood fibers from beech (Fagus sylvatica)
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During laccase-catalyzed oxidation of beech wood fibers in an aqueous suspension, phenoxy radicals were detected in steady-state concentrations by electron-spin resonance (ESR) spectrometry of the suspension liquid, suggesting that colloidal lignin functions as a mediator between laccase and the fiber lignin matrix. Phenoxy radicals were observed directly, whereas ESR spin-trapping techniques gave no evidence for reduced oxygen species, such as the superoxide or hydroxyl radical. A reaction mechanism involving parallel direct oxidation of the lignin on fiber surfaces and a phenol/phenoxy cyclic mediator process in the suspension liquid could accordingly describe laccase-catalyzed oxidation of beech wood fibers. Cytochrome c assays for detection of superoxide in systems involving lignin oxidized by oxidoreductases should be used with caution, as cytochrome c may be reduced by species other than superoxide.
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