Sci Rep. 2022 May 24;12(1):8734. doi: 10.1038/s41598-022-12689-1.
Lignin, a highly polymerized organic component of plant cells, is one of the most difficult aromatic substances to degrade. Selective biodegradation under mild conditions is a promising method, but the dynamic variations in lignin monomers during the biodegradation of lignocellulose are not fully understood. In this study, we evaluated the differences in lignin degradation under different microbial inoculation based on the lignin monomer content, monomer ratio, and stable hydrogen isotope ratio of lignin methoxy groups (δ2HLM). The weight loss during degradation and the net loss of lignocellulosic components improved dramatically with fungal inoculation. Syringyl monolignol (S-lignin), which contains two methoxy groups, was more difficult to degrade than guaiacyl (G-lignin), which contains only one methoxy group. The co-culture of Pseudomonas mandelii and Aspergillus fumigatus produced the greatest decrease in the G/S ratio, but δ2HLM values did not differ significantly among the three biodegradation experiments, although the enrichment was done within the fungal inoculation. The fluctuation of δ2HLM values during the initial phase of biodegradation may be related to the loss of pectic polysaccharides (another methoxy donor), which mainly originate from fallen leaves. Overall, the relative δ2HLM signals were preserved despite decreasing G/S ratios in the three degradation systems. Nevertheless, some details of lignin δ2HLM as a biomarker for biogeochemical cycles need to be explored further.