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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Copper-dependent depolymerization of lignin in the presence of fungal metabolite, pyridine.

Thus far, it has not been recognized that copper complexes are able to depolymerize lignin under physiological conditions of white rot decay. However, we have found that both phenolic and non-phenolic synthetic lignins were intensively depolymerized by Cu(II) and lipid hydroperoxide model compounds in the presence of a metabolite of ligninolytic fungi, pyridine at room temperature in aqueous media. Treatment of 14C-labeled oxygen-prebleached kraft pulp (OKP) by the copper-dependent reaction evidenced effectiveness of this reaction for the delignification of kraft pulps. In contrast to the organic peroxide system, Cu(II)/pyr/H2O2 system was much less effective for the lignin depolymerization. However, treatment of unbleached kraft pulp (UKP) by Cu(II)/H2O2 and Cu(II)/pyr/H2O2 systems demonstrated that the damage of cellulose was suppressed by the coordination of pyridine although high brightness gain was obtained independently of the presence of the coordinator. Spin trapping experiments demonstrated that not hydroxyl radical but superoxide anion is involved in the Cu(II)/pyr/H2O2 system. This finding not only introduces a new concept of non-enzymatic lignin biodegradation by wood-degrading fungi but also presents a new strategy for decomposing lignin and lignin-related compounds by copper complexes and peroxide-producing system.[1]


  1. Copper-dependent depolymerization of lignin in the presence of fungal metabolite, pyridine. Watanabe, T., Koller, K., Messner, K. J. Biotechnol. (1998) [Pubmed]
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