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Enzymatic production of xylooligosaccharides from corn stover and corn cobs treated with aqueous ammonia


A novel method of producing food-grade xylooligosaccharides from corn stover and corn cobs was investigated. The process starts with pretreatment of feedstock in aqueous ammonia, which results delignified and xylan-rich substrate. The pretreated substrates are subjected to enzymatic hydrolysis of xylan using endoxylanase for production of xylooligosaccharides. The conventional enzyme-based method involves extraction of xylan with a strong alkaline solution to form a liquid intermediate containing soluble xylan. This intermediate is heavily contaminated with various extraneous components. A costly purification step is therefore required before enzymatic hydrolysis. In the present method, xylan is obtained in solid form after pretreatment. Water-washing is all that is required for enzymatic hydrolysis of this material. The complex step of purifying soluble xylan from contaminant is essentially eliminated.

Refining of xylooligosaccharides to food-grade is accomplished by charcoal adsorption followed by ethanol elution. Xylanlytic hydrolysis of the pretreated corn stover yielded glucan-rich residue that is easily digestible by cellulase enzyme. The digestibility of the residue reached 86% with enzyme loading of 10 filter paper units/g-glucan. As a feedstock for xylooligosaccharides production, corn cobs are superior to corn stover because of high xylan content and high packing density. The high packing density of corn cobs reduces water input and eventually raises the product concentration.

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Correspondence to Y. Y. Lee.

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Zhu, Y., Kim, T.H., Lee, Y.Y. et al. Enzymatic production of xylooligosaccharides from corn stover and corn cobs treated with aqueous ammonia. Appl Biochem Biotechnol 130, 586–598 (2006).

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Index Entries

  • Corn stover
  • corn cobs
  • xylooligosaccharides
  • xylan
  • aqueous ammonia
  • pretreatment
  • endoxylanase