Applied Biochemistry and Biotechnology

, Volume 184, Issue 3, pp 777–793 | Cite as

Variations in Physicochemical Properties and Bioconversion Efficiency of Ulva lactuca Polysaccharides After Different Biomass Pretreatment Techniques

  • Mohamed Amine Jmel
  • Nico Anders
  • Nesrine Ben Yahmed
  • Christian Schmitz
  • M. Nejib Marzouki
  • Antje Spiess
  • Issam Smaali


Green macroalgae are an abundant and undervalued biomass with a specific cell wall structure. In this context, different pretreatments, namely ethanol organosolv (Org), alkaline, liquid hot water (LHW), and ionic liquid (IL) pretreatments, were applied to the green macroalgae Ulva lactuca biomass and then evaluated. Their effects on chemical composition, biomass crystallinity, enzymatic digestibility, and theoretical ethanol potential were studied. The chemical composition analysis showed that the Org and LHW pretreatments allowed the highest glucan recovery (80.8 ± 3.6 and 62.9 ± 4.4 g/100 g DM, respectively) with ulvan (80.0 and 99.1%) and hemicellulose (55.0 and 42.3%) removal. These findings were in agreement with both thermogravimetric analysis and scanning electron microscopy results that confirm significant structural changes of the pretreated biomasses. It was found that the employed pretreatments did not significantly affect the cellulose crystallinity; however, they both increased the whole crystallinity and the enzymatic digestibility. This later reached 97.5% in the case of LHW pretreatment. Our results showed high efficiency saccharification of Ulva lactuca biomass that will constitute the key step of the implementation of a biorefinery process.


Green macroalgae Pretreatment Crystallinity Enzymatic hydrolysis Ulva lactuca 



1-ethyl-3- methylimidazolium- acetate


Crystallinity index


Dry matter


High-performance anion exchange chromatography coupled to pulsed amperometric detection


Ionic liquid


Liquid hot water


Ethanol organosolv


Scanning electron microscopy


Thermogravimetric analysis



This work was carried out as a part of the ALGAEVAL project (TUNGER – 72) jointly funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and the Tunisian Ministry for Higher Education and Scientific Research (MESRS).

Part of this work was performed as part of the Cluster of Excellence “Tailor-Made Fuels from Biomass,” which is funded by the Excellence Initiative of the German federal and state governments to promote science and research at German universities.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

Supplementary material

12010_2017_2588_MOESM1_ESM.docx (57 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 56 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mohamed Amine Jmel
    • 1
  • Nico Anders
    • 2
  • Nesrine Ben Yahmed
    • 1
  • Christian Schmitz
    • 2
  • M. Nejib Marzouki
    • 1
  • Antje Spiess
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
  • Issam Smaali
    • 1
  1. 1.LIP-MB Laboratory LR11ES24Université de CarthageTunisTunisia
  2. 2.AVT-Enzyme Process TechnologyRWTH Aachen UniversityAachenGermany
  3. 3.DWI – Leibniz Institute for Interactive MaterialsAachenGermany
  4. 4.ibvt, Institut für BioverfahrenstechnikBraunschweigGermany

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