Hydrolytic methods for the quantification of fructose equivalents in herbaceous biomass

Appl Biochem Biotechnol. 2009 Aug;158(2):352-61. doi: 10.1007/s12010-009-8596-x. Epub 2009 Mar 31.


A low, but significant, fraction of the carbohydrate portion of herbaceous biomass may be composed of fructose/fructosyl-containing components ("fructose equivalents"); such carbohydrates include sucrose, fructooligosaccharides, and fructans. Standard methods used for the quantification of structural-carbohydrate-derived neutral monosaccharide equivalents in biomass are not particularly well suited for the quantification of fructose equivalents due to the inherent instability of fructose in conditions commonly used for hemicellulose/cellulose hydrolysis (>80% degradation of fructose standards treated at 4% sulfuric acid, 121 degrees C, 1 h). Alternative time, temperature, and acid concentration combinations for fructan hydrolysis were considered using model fructans (inulin, beta-2,1, and levan, beta-2,6) and a grass seed straw (tall fescue, Festuca arundinacea) as representative feedstocks. The instability of fructose, relative to glucose and xylose, at higher acid/temperature combinations is demonstrated, all rates of fructose degradation being acid and temperature dependent. Fructans are shown to be completely hydrolyzed at acid concentrations well below that used for the structural carbohydrates, as low as 0.2%, at 121 degrees C for 1 h. Lower temperatures are also shown to be effective, with corresponding adjustments in acid concentration and time. Thus, fructans can be effectively hydrolyzed under conditions where fructose degradation is maintained below 10%. Hydrolysis of the beta-2,1 fructans at temperatures > or =50 degrees C, at all conditions consistent with complete hydrolysis, appears to generate difructose dianhydrides. These same compounds were not detected upon hydrolysis of levan, sucrose, or straw components. It is suggested that fructan hydrolysis conditions be chosen such that hydrolysis goes to completion; fructose degradation is minimized, and difructose dianhydride production is accounted for.

MeSH terms

  • Acids / chemistry
  • Biochemistry / methods*
  • Biomass*
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Fructans / chemistry*
  • Fructose / chemistry*
  • Hydrolysis
  • Inulin / chemistry
  • Temperature


  • Acids
  • Fructans
  • Fructose
  • Inulin
  • levan