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**Lignin Overview and Composition**:
Lignin was first mentioned in 1813 by Swiss botanist A. P. de Candolle and named lignine, derived from the Latin word ‘lignum’ meaning wood.
– It constitutes 30% of terrestrial non-fossil organic carbon and varies in composition among species.
Lignin is derived from precursor lignols, including coniferyl, sinapyl, and paracoumaryl alcohol, and is classified based on the syringyl/guaiacyl (S/G) ratio.
– Molecular masses of lignin exceed 10,000 u, and different plant sources have varying precursor monomer amounts.
Lignin fills spaces in the cell wall between cellulose, hemicellulose, and pectin, providing mechanical strength and supporting wood strength in vascular plants.

**Biological Function and Industrial Significance**:
Lignin is crucial for water and nutrient conduction in plant stems and confers disease resistance by accumulating at pathogen sites.
– In the papermaking industry, lignin removal is essential, as it comprises about 1/3 of lignocellulose mass, with global paper production exceeding 220 million tons.
Lignin is used as fuel or in low-volume applications, and delignification processes are crucial for high-quality paper production.
– The economic significance of lignin extends to its role in providing mechanical strength, supporting wood strength, and contributing to disease resistance in plants.

**Biosynthesis, Degradation, and Pyrolysis of Lignin**:
Lignin biosynthesis begins in the cytosol with the synthesis of glycosylated monolignols and involves polymerization of coniferyl alcohol to lignin catalyzed by oxidative enzymes.
Lignin degradation varies with species and tissue type, with syringyl lignin being more susceptible to degradation by fungal decay.
– White rot fungi like Phanerochaete chrysosporium have well-studied ligninolytic enzymes, while bacteria have limited lignin-degrading enzymes.
– Pyrolysis of lignin during wood combustion yields methoxy-substituted phenols like guaiacol and syringol, essential in wood and charcoal production.

**Environmental Impact and Analysis of Lignin**:
– Microbial degradation alters lignin phenols and trihalomethane precursors, affecting the fate of terrigenous dissolved organic matter in marine environments.
Lignin contributes to the carbon cycle, and its degradation releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, impacting nutrient cycling.
– Chemical analysis methods like Klason lignin and acid-soluble lignin tests are used to quantify lignin in the pulp industry, while computational simulation helps study lignin structure.

**Research and Development in Lignin Utilization**:
– Scientists are exploring efficient lignin extraction methods and improving valorization processes.
Lignin nanoparticles show promise in various applications, and efforts are underway to investigate lignin as a renewable feedstock.
– Collaboration between industries and academia is driving innovation in lignin applications, including its potential as a substitute for petroleum-based products and in biofuel production.

Lignin (Wikipedia)

Lignin is a class of complex organic polymers that form key structural materials in the support tissues of most plants. Lignins are particularly important in the formation of cell walls, especially in wood and bark, because they lend rigidity and do not rot easily. Chemically, lignins are polymers made by cross-linking phenolic precursors.

Idealized structure of lignin from a softwood
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