The production of biofuels and other chemicals from lignocellulosic biomass is limited by the inefficiency of enzymatic hydrolysis. Here a biomimetic composite material consisting of bacterial cellulose and wood-based hemicelluloses was used to study the effects of hemicelluloses on the enzymatic hydrolysis with a commercial cellulase mixture. Bacterial cellulose synthesized in the presence of hemicelluloses, especially xylan, was found to be more susceptible to enzymatic hydrolysis than hemicellulose-free bacterial cellulose. The reason for the easier hydrolysis could be related to the nanoscale structure of the substrate, particularly the packing of cellulose microfibrils into ribbons or bundles. In addition, small-angle X-ray scattering was used to show that the average nanoscale morphology of bacterial cellulose remained unchanged during the enzymatic hydrolysis. The reported easier enzymatic hydrolysis of bacterial cellulose produced in the presence of wood-based xylan offers new insights to overcome biomass recalcitrance through genetic engineering.
- Bacterial cellulose
- Small-angle X-ray scattering