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Investigation of Pleurotus Ostreatus Pretreatment on Switchgrass for Ethanol Production

Slavens, Shelyn Gehle

Fungal pretreatment using the white-rot fungus Pleurotus ostreatus on switchgrass for ethanol production was studied. In a small-scale storage study, small switchgrass bales were inoculated with fungal spawn and automatically watered to maintain moisture. Sampled at 25, 53, and 81 d, the switchgrass composition was determined and liquid hot water (LHW) pretreatment was conducted. Fungal pretreatment significantly decreased the xylan and lignin content; glucan was not significantly affected by fungal loading. The glucan, xylan, and lignin contents significantly decreased with increased fungal pretreatment time. The effects of the fungal pretreatment were not highly evident after the LHW pretreatment, showing only changes based on sampling time. Although other biological activity within the bales increased cellulose degradation, the fungal pretreatment successfully reduced the switchgrass lignin and hemicellulose contents. In a laboratory-scale nutrient supplementation study, copper, manganese, glucose, or water was added to switchgrass to induce production of ligninolytic enzymes by P. ostreatus. After 40 d, ligninolytic enzyme activities and biomass composition were determined and simultaneous saccharification and fermentation (SSF) was conducted to determine ethanol yield. Laccase activity was similar for all supplements and manganese peroxidase (MnP) activity was significantly less in copper-treated samples than in the other fungal-inoculated samples. The fungal pretreatment reduced glucan, xylan, and lignin content, while increasing extractable sugars content. The lowest lignin contents occurred in the water-fungal treated samples and produced the greatest ethanol yields. The greatest lignin contents occurred in the copper-fungal treated samples and produced the lowest ethanol yields. Manganese-fungal and glucose-fungal treated samples had similar, intermediate lignin contents and produced similar, intermediate ethanol yields. Ethanol yields from switchgrass were increased significantly by fungal pretreatment.