BioEnergy Research

, Volume 6, Issue 2, pp 564–579 | Cite as

Composition and Structure of Sugarcane Cell Wall Polysaccharides: Implications for Second-Generation Bioethanol Production

  • Amanda P. de Souza
  • Débora C. C. Leite
  • Sivakumar Pattathil
  • Michael G. Hahn
  • Marcos S. BuckeridgeEmail author


The structure and fine structure of leaf and culm cell walls of sugarcane plants were analyzed using a combination of microscopic, chemical, biochemical, and immunological approaches. Fluorescence microscopy revealed that leaves and culm display autofluorescence and lignin distributed differently through different cell types, the former resulting from phenylpropanoids associated with vascular bundles and the latter distributed throughout all cell walls in the tissue sections. Polysaccharides in leaf and culm walls are quite similar, but differ in the proportions of xyloglucan and arabinoxylan in some fractions. In both cases, xyloglucan (XG) and arabinoxylan (AX) are closely associated with cellulose, whereas pectins, mixed-linkage-β-glucan (BG), and less branched xylans are strongly bound to cellulose. Accessibility to hydrolases of cell wall fraction increased after fractionation, suggesting that acetyl and phenolic linkages, as well as polysaccharide–polysaccharide interactions, prevented enzyme action when cell walls are assembled in its native architecture. Differently from other hemicelluloses, BG was shown to be readily accessible to lichenase when in intact walls. These results indicate that wall architecture has important implications for the development of more efficient industrial processes for second-generation bioethanol production. Considering that pretreatments such as steam explosion and alkali may lead to loss of more soluble fractions of the cell walls (BG and pectins), second-generation bioethanol, as currently proposed for sugarcane feedstock, might lead to loss of a substantial proportion of the cell wall polysaccharides, therefore decreasing the potential of sugarcane for bioethanol production in the future.


Bioenergy Cellulosic ethanol Hemicelluloses Cell wall composition Cell wall structure Sugarcane 



The authors thank Maria de Lourdes Polizelli and André Damasio for supplying xyloglucan endoglucanase (XEG, GH12). The authors acknowledge the assistance of Maria Teresa Borges and Karen Marabezi with the FTIR production of data. This work was supported financially and is part of the production of the Instituto Nacional de Ciência e Tecnologia do Bioetanol—INCT do Bioetanol (FAPESP 2008/57908-6 and CNPq 574002/2008-1) and of the Centro de Processos Biológicos e Industriais para Biocombustíveis—CeProBIO (FAPESP 2009/52840-7 and CNPq 490022/2009-0). The glycome profiling was supported by the BioEnergy Science Center administered by Oak Ridge national Laboratory and funded by a grant (DE-AC05-00OR22725) from the Office of Biological and Environmental Research, Office of Science, United States, Department of Energy. Generation of the CCRC series of plant glycan-directed monoclonal antibodies used in this work was supported by the NSF Plant Genome Program (DBI-0421683).

Supplementary material

12155_2012_9268_MOESM1_ESM.xlsx (36 kb)
ESM 1 (XLSX 36.4 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Amanda P. de Souza
    • 1
  • Débora C. C. Leite
    • 1
  • Sivakumar Pattathil
    • 2
  • Michael G. Hahn
    • 2
  • Marcos S. Buckeridge
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Laboratory of Plant Physiological Ecology (LAFIECO), Department of Botany, Institute of BiosciencesUniversity of São PauloSao PauloBrazil
  2. 2.BioEnergy Science Center, Complex Carbohydrate Research CenterThe University of GeorgiaAthensUSA

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