During 2010 AIChE meeting, a paper by Qing Qing from UC Riverside presented their research on "The Mechanism of Inhibition on Cellulose Hydrolysis by Different Chain Length Xylooligomers”. Their research suggests that xylooligomers are strong inhibitors of cellulases (more than xylose, xylan, glucose and cellobiose) based on the experimental results: A trend of decreasing glucan conversion with increasing DP xylooligomers, which was believed to be due to either obstruction of the cellulose by the oligomers, non-specific binding of the cellulases to the xylan or inhibition by the xylooligomers. Protein adsorption tests demonstrated that the spezyme CP cellulase, multifect xylanase, and β-xylosidase bound to the xylooligomers.
Their solution to reduce inhibition was to add the hemicellulases before cellulases. However, the effect was not as big as what expected, probably a synergistic effect is also needed.