The occurrence of covalent bonds between residual lignin and polysaccharides in birch and pine kraft pulps was investigated by specific enzymatic treatments. Pure enzymes degrading cellulose, xylan and mannan were used both separately and in combination. Comparison of the molar masses of polysaccharides and lignin in the orginal pulps and in the residual pulps after enzymatic treatments showed that residual lignin in birch kraft pulp is linked at least to xylan. A minor portion may also be linked to cellulose. In pine kraft pulp some of the residual lignin appears to be linked to cellulose, glucomannan and xylan. The linkages between lignin and cellulose and hemicelluloses may be either native or formed during pulp processing. The results also provided new information on the synergistic action of cellulose- and hemicellulose-degrading enzymes on pulp fibres. The synergism appears to be mainly due to the structure of the pulp fibres, with different layers of cellulose sheets, hemicelluloses and lignin. On the other hand the results also provided information about fibre structure. The degradation of xylan clearly enhanced the action of enzymes on cellulose, suggesting that xylan partially covers the cellulose. A similar phenomenon was not observed in the simultaneous hydrolysis of glucomannan and cellulose. However, the results suggest that glucomannan does interact with cellulose, possibly by non-covalent linkages.
Tenkanen, M., Tamminen, T., & Hortling, B. (1999). Investigation of lignin-carbohydrate complexes in kraft pulps by selective enzymatic treatments. Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology, 51(2), 241-248. https://doi.org/10.1007/s002530051388