Silica Biomineralization with Lignin Involves Si-O-C Bonds That Stabilize Radicals

Srinath Palakurthy, Lothar Houben, Michael Elbaum, Rivka Elbaum*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Plants undergo substantial biomineralization of silicon, which is deposited primarily in cell walls as amorphous silica. The mineral formation could be moderated by the structure and chemistry of lignin, a polyphenol polymer that is a major constituent of the secondary cell wall. However, the reactions between lignin and silica have not yet been well elucidated. Here, we investigate silica deposition onto a lignin model compound. Polyphenyl propanoid was synthesized from coniferyl alcohol by oxidative coupling with peroxidase in the presence of acidic tetramethyl orthosilicate, a silicic acid precursor. Raman, Fourier transform infrared, and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopies detected changes in lignin formation in the presence of silicic acid. Bonds between the Si-O/Si-OH residues and phenoxyl radicals and lignin functional groups formed during the first 3 h of the reaction, while silica continued to form over 3 days. Thermal gravimetric analysis indicated that lignin yields increased in the presence of silicic acid, possibly via the stabilization of phenolic radicals. This, in turn, resulted in shorter stretches of the lignin polymer. Silica deposition initiated within a lignin matrix via the formation of covalent Si-O-C bonds. The silica nucleants grew into 2-5 nm particles, as observed via scanning transmission electron microscopy and energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy. Additional silica precipitated into an extended gel. Collectively, our results demonstrate a reciprocal relation by which lignin polymerization catalyzes the formation of silica, and at the same time silicic acid enhances lignin polymerization and yield.

Original languageAmerican English
StateAccepted/In press - 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 The Authors. Published by American Chemical Society.


Dive into the research topics of 'Silica Biomineralization with Lignin Involves Si-O-C Bonds That Stabilize Radicals'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this