Monitoring pathways of β-glucan degradation by enzyme mixtures in situ.

B. O. Petersen, O. Olsen, Sophie Beeren, O. Hindsgaul, Sebastian Meier

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


The degradation of β-glucans from cereal cell walls is related to health benefits of whole grain foodstuffs and is a prominent cost in the production of bioethanol and in improving the filterability of malt-based beverages. Detailed assays of β-glucan degradation pathways by enzyme mixtures therefore promise to support the analysis of physiological and the optimization of technological processes. Physiological and biotechnological processes tend to occur in complex mixtures of catalysts and substrates and the development of advanced methodologies for mixture analysis has been attracting a great deal of attention. In situ detection of processes that involve carbohydrate synthesis and degradation encompasses the challenge of detecting monomer identities and linkage patterns, as well as enzymatic stereochemistry and specificity while resolving chemically similar reactants, challenges that are complicated in the additional detection of intermediate degradation steps. In the current study, we show that nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy near the highest available spectrometer fields permits detailed real-time assays of the degradation of polymeric barley (1→3),(1→4)-β-glucan by commercial enzyme mixtures. Up to six different intermediates can be resolved and structurally assigned within a 0.07 ppm chemical shift range using the anomeric 1H chemical signal in β-(1→3) glycosidic linkages as a structural reporter. More than 16 different glucopyranosyl spin systems are assigned to structural motifs in degradation fragments. The time course of intermediate emergence permits deciphering cleavage pathways and stereochemistry for up to four different enzyme catalyzed steps in situ. All rights reserved, Elsevier.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)47-51
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Barley
  • Decomposition
  • Degradation
  • Glucans
  • NMR
  • Nuclear magnetic resonance
  • Cereals and bakery products
  • Minor cereals and pseudocereals


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