Disclosed herein are methods that involve degrading materials that include lignin. In one aspect, the method generally includes contacting a lignin sample with a lignin depolymerase and contacting the lignin sample with an auxiliary compound. In another aspect, the method generally includes contacting an auxiliary compound with a sample that includes uncleaved lignin macromolecules and at least partially cleaved lignin components in intermolecular association with other lignin components and/or at least a portion of the uncleaved lignin macromolecules. In both aspects, the auxiliary compound dissociates at least partially cleaved lignin components from one another and/or the uncleaved lignin macromolecules.
 The present invention was made with government support under Grant No. XFT-8-88522-01, awarded by the Department of Energy (ORNL/NREL BioEnergy Science Center). The Government has certain rights in the invention.