Some ionic liquids are able to dissolve wood, including lignin and lignocellulose, and thus they provide an efficient reaction media for modification of globally abundant wood-based polymers. Lignin can be modified with laccases (EC 22.214.171.124), multicopper oxidases, which selectively catalyze the oxidation of phenolic hydroxyl to the phenoxy radical in lignin by using oxygen as the co-substrate and an electron acceptor. Many enzymes, including laccases, retain their catalytic activity in the presence of ionic liquids. However, the enzyme activity is usually decreased in the presence of ionic liquids, and the most deactivating ionic liquids have been observed to be those dissolving wood most efficiently. In the present study the activity, pH optimum and catalyzed oxidation of coniferyl alcohol by the laccase from the ascomycete Melanocarpus albomyces was investigated in the ionic liquid 1-allyl-3-methyl-imidazolium chloride ([Amim]Cl), known to dissolve wood and expected to affect the laccase activity. Indeed, with an increasing concentration of [Amim]Cl, the activity of M. albomyces laccase decreased, and the pH range of the enzyme activity was narrowed. The pH optimum, using 2,6-dimethoxyphenol as the substrate, was shifted from 6.5 to 6.0 when the amount of [Amim]Cl was increased to 60% (m-%). It was also found that the inhibition of laccase with NaN3 was not as severe in the ionic liquid as in water. The insoluble fraction of the dehydropolymer (DHP) formed in the presence of [Amim]Cl had clearly higher molecular weight compared to the one formed in water. DHPs formed in the absence and presence of [Amim]Cl both contained β-5, β–β, β-O-4, α-CO/β-O-4 and α-O-4/β-O-4 structures. However, in the presence of [Amim]Cl, less β-O-4, slightly less β-5 and more β–β structures were formed.
- Dehydropolymer (DHP)
- ionic liquid
- two-dimensional nuclear magnetic resonance (2D NMR)