Characterization of Anatomical, Chemical, and Biodegradable Properties of Fibers from Corn, Wheat, and Rice Residues

Rose Marie Garay M.1*, Mónica Rallo de la B.1, René Carmona C.1, and Jaime Araya C.2

Anatomical, chemical, and biodegradation properties of fibers from wheat (Triticum aestivum L.), rice (Oryza sativa L.), and corn (Zea mays L.) plant residues and from rice hull were characterized to generate scientific and technical knowledge to support decision making regarding their use. The anatomical and chemical properties were determined following standard procedures. The degree of biodeterioration was analyzed from growth of white rot fungus Pleurotus ostreatus (Jaq.) Quél. in 30 d under favorable conditions. Afterwards, weight loss was evaluated for each residue. Three replicates were used, plus a control of radiata pine(Pinus radiata D. Don) woodchips. The greatest proportion of a-cellulose was found in residues of rice plants (45.1%), with a high amount of extractable (non-structural components, that confer organoleptic characteristics), followed by rice hull (22.78%), which is explained by the presence of silica in their cells. Ash content was higher in wheat residues, reaching up to 18.34%. Anatomical characteristics were studied to corroborate potential use in industrial processes. Fiber length and wall thickness were similar to those of latifoliate wood fibers, although possibly less resistant because of lower lignification. The largest weight loss was from rice plant (32%), followed by rice hull (27%), and corn plants (26.6%). The most resistant was wheat plant (15.8%). All these materials had greater weight losses than the control sample (3.8%). Thus, given their anatomical and chemical properties, the use of plant residue fibers in industrial processes is technically possible, though with concern about their biodegradability.

Keywords: agriculture fibers, biodeterioration, crop residues, Pleurotus ostreatus, white rot
1 Universidad de Chile, Facultad de Ciencias Forestales, Casilla 9206. *Corresponding author (rgaray@uchile.cl).
2 Universidad de Chile, Facultad de Ciencias Agronómicas, Casilla 9206, Santiago, Chile.