Field-grown genetically engineered and wild-type poplars were pyrolyzed in a micro-pyrolysis (Py-GC/MS) setup under fast pyrolysis conditions. Poplars (Populus tremula x P. alba) down-regulated for cinnamoyl-CoA reductase (CCR), which catalyzes the first step of the monolignol-specific branch of the phenylpropanoid biosynthetic pathway, were grown in field trials in France and harvested after a full rotation of 2 years. The effect of small compositional differences, specifically small shifts in lignin composition and their impact on the bio-oil composition, could not be identified using principal component analysis (PCA), necessitating the use of more advanced analysis techniques. The combination of parallel factor analysis 2 (PARAFAC2) and partial least squares-discriminant analysis (PLS-DA) for detailed characterization and classification of the pyrolysis data enabled the classification of the poplars with a success rate above 99% using the PARAFAC2 scores. This methodology proved to be extremely valuable to identify subtle information in complex datasets, such as the one used in this study. The obtained PLS-DA models were validated by cross-validation, jackknifing and permutation tests in order to ensure that the model was not overfitting the data. PLS-DA showed that down-regulation of CCR disfavored the relative amount of both guaiacyl and syringyl lignin-derived compounds. This study shows that lignin engineering can be a promising strategy to alter the lignin composition of the biomass for the production of high value-added phenolic compounds.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Analytical Chemistry
- Fuel Technology