AbstractThe cleavage of lignin bonds in a wood matrix is an important step in the processes employed in both the biorefinery and pulp and paper industries. β-O-4 ether linkages are susceptible to both acidic and alkaline hydrolysis. The cleavage of α-ether linkages rapidly occurs under mildly acidic reaction conditions, resulting in lower molecular weight lignin fragments. Acidic reactions are typically employed in the biorefinery industries, while alkaline reactions are more typically employed in the pulp and paper industries, especially in the kraft pulping process. By better understanding lignin reactions and reaction conditions, it may be possible to improve silvicultural and breeding programs to enhance the formation of easily removable lignin, as opposed to more chemically resistant lignin structures. In hardwood species, the S/G ratio has been successfully correlated to the amount of β-O-4 ether linkages present in the lignin and the ease of pulping reactions.