Xylan as limiting factor in enzymatic hydrolysis of nanocellulose

Paavo A. Penttilä*, Anikó Várnai, Jaakko Pere, Tekla Tammelin, Lennart Salmén, Matti Siika-aho, Liisa Viikari, Ritva Serimaa

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

80 Citations (Scopus)


The role of xylan as a limiting factor in the enzymatic hydrolysis of cellulose was studied by hydrolysing nanocellulose samples prepared by mechanical fibrillation of birch pulp with varying xylan content. Analyzing the nanocelluloses and their hydrolysis residues with dynamic FT-IR spectroscopy revealed that a certain fraction of xylan remained tightly attached to cellulose fibrils despite partial hydrolysis of xylan with xylanase prior to pulp fibrillation and that this fraction remained in the structure during the hydrolysis of nanocellulose with cellulase mixture as well. Thus, a loosely bound fraction of xylan was predicted to have been more likely removed by purified xylanase. The presence of loosely bound xylan seemed to limit the hydrolysis of crystalline cellulose, indicated by an increase in cellulose crystallinity and by preserved crystal width measured with wide-angle X-ray scattering. Removing loosely bound xylan led to a proportional hydrolysis of xylan and cellulose with the cellulase mixture.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)135-141
Number of pages7
JournalBioresource Technology
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2013
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Dynamic FT-IR spectroscopy
  • Enzymatic hydrolysis
  • Hemicellulose
  • Nanocellulose
  • Wide-angle X-ray scattering


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