Recently the analysis of complex carbohydrates has been facilitated by the adoption of an array of sophisticated instrumental techniques. However, the interpretation of native structures based on these methods may be compromised because (i) it is difficult to maintain structural integrity of polysaccharides during their extraction from the cell wall matrix in preparation for analysis and (ii) there are limited definitive approaches for the subsequent allocation of the mixture of extracted components into appropriate homogeneous fractions. Hence a reconciliation of biological function with specific structural entities may be obscured. As an alternative to alkali extraction we describe the use of an enzyme to dissociate fragments of glucuronoarabinoxylan from the cell wall matrix.
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