Fungal pretreatment of plant biomass is often assessed by using single plant genotypes and single fungal strains, but can the process be improved by harmonizing both, thus selecting specific substrate-fungus combinations? To tackle this question, we treated four Miscanthus sinensis genotypes with four Ceriporiopsis subvermispora strains and thoroughly analyzed substrates and treated residues. The M. sinensis genotypes differed in cellulose, hemicellulose, and lignin contents and lignin-wise diverged in subunit and linkage composition and the incorporation of hydroxycinnamic acids and tricin. Independently of the M. sinensis genotype used, C. subvermispora strain MES13904 outperformed the other three strains in extent and selectivity of delignification and consistently generated the highest enzymatic residual carbohydrate conversion and structural changes in the residual lignin. The “best” substrate-fungus combination gave 63% w/w delignification and a total enzymatic glucose yield of 66% w/w, while the “worst” combination led to 3% w/w lignin removal only and negligible glucose yield improvement. Our study highlights that white-rot fungal treatment of plant biomass is driven by both compositional and structural features of the substrate as well as the genetic makeup of the fungal strain used. These insights contribute to expediting the biological valorization of lignocellulose and ultimately to enabling more controlled fungal pretreatments.
- biological pretreatment