Lignin typically stains red in prepared microscope slides. In foods, lignin is considered dietary fibre. There is evidence that lignin binds to carcinogens and other harmful substances and makes them safe.
Lignin chemistryLignin is not one compound but many. All are complex, amorphous, three-dimensional polymers that have in common a phenylpropane structure, that is, a benzene ring with a tail of three carbons. In their natural unprocessed form, they are so complex that none of them has ever been completely described, and they have molecular weights that my reach 15,000 or more.
Lignins as they occur in nature (protolignins) have been grouped into several types, characteristic of hardwoods, softwoods, and grasses. Within each type there is a lot of variation: lignins differ from species to species, and from one tissue to the next in the same plant – even within different parts of the same cell. The process of removing them from the plant changes their form and chemical makeup to a greater or lesser extent, which makes then hard to study and way account for the large and growing number of analytical techniques in use.
Related categories• BIOCHEMISTRY
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