Lignocellulose Biodegradation in Composting

  • Martin A. HubbeEmail author
Part of the Sustainable Development and Biodiversity book series (SDEB, volume 3)


Plant-derived material, i.e., lignocellulosic biomass, makes up a major proportion of the initial mass in a typical composting operation. Such biomass plays some key roles as the mixture is being converted to prepare a useful soil amendment. For instance, the lignocellulosic component can provide bulking, can help to balance the C:N elemental composition, and serves as the main source of energy for the bacterial processes that go on during composting. This chapter reviews recent research helping to clarify these roles and to explain the underlying mechanisms. Recent studies have highlighted the importance of bacterial communities, as well as the succession in the composition of those communities during the different thermal phases of composting. Progress also has been made in understanding the flows of heat resulting from metabolism, aeration, and chemical changes in the compost mixture. Advances have been reported in the chemical analysis of compost, revealing details of chemical transformations occurring during the decomposition and stabilization of compost. The lignin component in a compostable mixture provides chemical building blocks that give rise to humic acids and other substances that resist further biodegradation and allow mature compost to retain water and bind minerals. Based on the literature one can conclude that composting, especially when lignocellulosic materials are employed under suitable conditions, is an environmentally responsible, relatively mature technology that can be expected to receive increasing research attention in the future.


Bacterial communities Aeration C:N ratio Compost pile Detoxification 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Dept. of Forest BiomaterialsNorth Carolina State UniversityCampus Box 8005, RaleighUSA

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