The release of depolymerization products of lignin during the degradation of lignocellulsic material under sulfate reducing condition was investigated. In addition, we investigated the fate of the most common (β-O-4) link present in lignin under sulfate reducing condition, using a lignin model compound. The method of investigation was based on the selective inhibition of microbial uptake of released aromatic phenolic compounds, depolymerization product of lignin, by toluene. Eight different aromatic phenolic compounds were identified. Until day 17 only 3 phenolic compounds were regularly detected, thereafter 7 aromatic phenolic compounds could be regularly identified. The accumulation of identified phenolic acid was not linear with time. The lignin model compound was completely degraded within 13 days when either Avicel cellulose or newspaper was present as alternate source of carbon. On the other hand when lignin model compound was present as the sole source of carbon, it took more than 22 days for its complete degradation. But in either case complete degradation of lignin model compound was observed. Four degradation by-products of lignin model compound were identified, but the two most significant compounds identified were vanillic acid and 3-methoxy-4-hydroxy benzene propionic acid. The GC/MS analysis of the degradation by products of lignin model compound indicated that β-O-4 link was cleaved under sulfate reducing condition and the presence of additional carbon source enhanced this process.

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