Carbohydrate analysis of plant materials with uronic acid-containing polysaccharides: A comparison between different hydrolysis and subsequent chromatographic analytical techniques

Stefan Willför (Corresponding Author), Andrey Pranovich, Tarja Tamminen, Juergen Puls, Christiane Laine, Anna Suurnäkki, Bodo Saake, Kati Uotila, Helena Simolin, Jarl Hemming, Bjarne Holmbom

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Acid hydrolysis, acid methanolysis, and enzymatic hydrolysis were compared for depolymerization of five different plant materials containing uronic acids. The analyzed plant materials were oat spelt, wheat straw, spruce thermomechanical pulp, aspen stemwood, and totally chlorine-free (TCF) bleached hardwood kraft pulp. Furthermore, GC (using both HP-1 and HP-5 capillary columns and FID and MSD detectors), HPAEC-PAD, and HPAEC-Borate techniques were compared for subsequent analysis of the released monosaccharides. It was shown that acid methanolysis combined with GC analysis is a convenient method for obtaining the sugar unit composition and amount of non-crystalline polysaccharides in different plant materials. The methanolysis method was generally superior to the hydrolysis method for xylan- and uronic acid-containing samples. However, acid and enzymatic hydrolysis showed the highest recoveries for bleached chemical pulp samples. Acid hydrolysis is also required for crystalline polysaccharides, but the strong acid conditions evidently lead to degradation of labile sugars. The plant methanolysates were not suitable as such for analysis on an HPAEC-PAD system. For analysis of the total amount of sugar units, hence including cellulose, other non-crystalline hemicelluloses, and pectins, a combination of the methanolysis and hydrolysis methods is recommended.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)571-580
Number of pages10
JournalIndustrial Crops and Products
Issue number2-3
Publication statusPublished - 2009
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed



  • Acid methanolysis
  • Acid hydrolysis
  • Enzymatic hydrolysis
  • GC-FID
  • GC-MS
  • HPAEC-Borate

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