Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: Polysaccharides


Corn starch, potato starch, pea starch were impregnated with ionic gums (sodium alginate, CMC, and xanthan, 1% based on starch solids) and heat-treated in a dry state for 0, 2, or 4 h at 130°C. Effects of the dry heating on paste viscosity (RVA), microstructure and thermal properties were examined. Dry heat treatment with ionic gums reduced the pasting temperature of the three starches. Heating with xanthan increased the paste viscosity of corn and potato starch. With heat treatment, the paste viscosity of all the starch-sodium alginate mixtures decreased. Heating with CMC increased the paste viscosity of potato starch, but decreased that of corn and pea starch. After dry-heating, To, Tp and Tc of potato starch with ionic gums decreased significantly. SEM of potato starch with CMC showed that the gel structure got compacter after drying-heating. Heat treatment obviously improved the functional properties of the three starches.

Concepts: Starch, Maize, Potato, Polysaccharides, Edible thickening agents, Cornstarch, Potato starch, Waxy potato starch


The importance of probiotics and their live delivery in the gastrointestinal tract has gained much importance in the recent past. Many reports have indicated that there is poor viability of probiotic bacteria in dairy based products, both fermented and non-fermented, and also in the human gastro-intestinal system is questionable. In this case, microencapsulation is the most significant emerging and efficient technology that is being used for the preservation of probiotics against adverse environmental conditions. Apart from different techniques of microencapsulation, various types of encapsulating materials are also used for the process, namely, alginate, chitosan, carrageenan, gums (locust bean, gellan gum, xanthan gum, etc.), gelatin, whey protein, starch, and compression coating. Each one of the encapsulating materials has its own unique characteristics of capsule formation and provision of shape, appearance, and strength to microbeads. The type of encapsulating material also influences the viability of probiotics during storage, processing, and in the gastrointestinal tract. The effectiveness of any material depends not upon its capsule forming capability, strength, and enhancing viability but also on its cheapness, availability, and biocompatibility. So, added convenience and reduced packaging costs may also be used to offset the cost of encapsulating one or more ingredients. Encapsulated forms of ingredients provide a longer shelf life for the product.

Concepts: Digestive system, Milk, Polysaccharide, E number, Digestion, Gums, Polysaccharides, Edible thickening agents


Marine environment exhibits an enormous diversity of organisms which contains an abundant source of polysaccharides. As polymer matrix carriers, marine-based polymers possess several valuable properties including high stability, non-toxicity, hydrophilicity, biodegradability, with low production cost. Despite notable biological activities of these natural polymers, there are certain limitations in exploring their functions in applications of nano-sized drug delivery systems. The review aims to demonstrate exceptional characteristics of marine-based polymers including fucoidan, alginate, carrageenan, hyaluronic acid, chondroitin sulfate, and chitosan as well as provide perspectives of current publications on their nanoparticle formulations for biomedical applications.

Concepts: DNA, Protein, Pharmacology, Life, Polymer, Sol-gel, Polysaccharide, Polysaccharides


Polysaccharide-based biopolymers have many material properties relevant to industrial and medical uses, including as drug delivery agents, wound healing adhesives, and food additives and stabilizers. Traditionally, polysaccharides are obtained from natural sources. Microbial synthesis offers an attractive alternative for sustainable production of tailored biopolymers. Here, we review synthetic biology strategies for select “green” biopolymers: cellulose, alginate, chitin, chitosan, and hyaluronan. Microbial production pathways, opportunities for pathway yield improvements, and advances in microbial engineering of biopolymers in various hosts are discussed. Taken together, microbial engineering has expanded the repertoire of green biological chemistry by increasing the diversity of biobased materials.

Concepts: Natural selection, Molecular biology, Wound healing, Ecology, Cell wall, Polysaccharide, Materials science, Polysaccharides


Calcified skeletons are produced within complex assemblages of proteins and polysaccharides whose roles in mineralization are not well understood. Here we quantify the kinetics of calcite nucleation onto a suite of high-purity polysaccharide (PS) substrates under controlled conditions. The energy barriers to nucleation are PS-specific by a systematic relationship to PS charge density and substrate structure that is rooted in minimization of the competing substrate-crystal and substrate-liquid interfacial energies. Chitosan presents a low-energy barrier to nucleation because its near-neutral charge favors formation of a substrate-crystal interface, thus reducing substrate interactions with water. Progressively higher barriers are measured for negatively charged alginates and heparin that favor contact with the solution over the formation of new substrate-crystal interfaces. The findings support a directing role for PS in biomineral formation and demonstrate that substrate-crystal interactions are one end-member in a larger continuum of competing forces that regulate heterogeneous crystal nucleation.

Concepts: Electric charge, Fundamental physics concepts, Water, Atom, Cell wall, Force, Polysaccharide, Polysaccharides


Fucoidans are a class of sulfated fucose-rich polysaccharides found in brown marine algae and echinoderms. Fucoidans have an attractive array of bioactivities and potential applications including immune modulation, cancer inhibition, and pathogen inhibition. Research into fucoidan has continued to gain pace over the last few years and point towards potential therapeutic or adjunct roles. The source, extraction, characterization and detection of fucoidan is discussed.

Concepts: Immune system, Algae, Therapy, Source, Brown algae, Polysaccharides


Lytic polysaccharide monooxygenases (LPMOs) are industrially important copper-dependent enzymes that oxidatively cleave polysaccharides. Here we present a functional and structural characterization of two closely related AA9-family LPMOs from Lentinus similis (LsAA9A) and Collariella virescens (CvAA9A). LsAA9A and CvAA9A cleave a range of polysaccharides, including cellulose, xyloglucan, mixed-linkage glucan and glucomannan. LsAA9A additionally cleaves isolated xylan substrates. The structures of CvAA9A and of LsAA9A bound to cellulosic and non-cellulosic oligosaccharides provide insight into the molecular determinants of their specificity. Spectroscopic measurements reveal differences in copper co-ordination upon the binding of xylan and glucans. LsAA9A activity is less sensitive to the reducing agent potential when cleaving xylan, suggesting that distinct catalytic mechanisms exist for xylan and glucan cleavage. Overall, these data show that AA9 LPMOs can display different apparent substrate specificities dependent upon both productive protein-carbohydrate interactions across a binding surface and also electronic considerations at the copper active site.

Concepts: Enzyme, Cell wall, Cellulose, Polysaccharides


Chitosan is a natural polycationic linear polysaccharide derived from chitin. The low solubility of chitosan in neutral and alkaline solution limits its application. Nevertheless, chemical modification into composites or hydrogels brings to it new functional properties for different applications. Chitosans are recognized as versatile biomaterials because of their non-toxicity, low allergenicity, biocompatibility and biodegradability. This review presents the recent research, trends and prospects in chitosan. Some special pharmaceutical and biomedical applications are also highlighted.

Concepts: Chemistry, Solubility, Chemical substance, Polysaccharide, Spreadsheet, Chitosan, Chitin, Polysaccharides


Oceans are a vast source of natural substances. In them, we find various compounds with wide biotechnological and biomedical applicabilities. The exploitation of the sea as a renewable source of biocompounds can have a positive impact on the development of new systems and devices for biomedical applications. Marine polysaccharides are among the most abundant materials in the seas, which contributes to a decrease of the extraction costs, besides their solubility behavior in aqueous solvents and extraction media, and their interaction with other biocompounds. Polysaccharides such as alginate, carrageenan and fucoidan can be extracted from algae, whereas chitosan and hyaluronan can be obtained from animal sources. Most marine polysaccharides have important biological properties such as biocompatibility, biodegradability, and anti-inflammatory activity, as well as adhesive and antimicrobial actions. Moreover, they can be modified in order to allow processing them into various shapes and sizes and may exhibit response dependence to external stimuli, such as pH and temperature. Due to these properties, these biomaterials have been studied as raw material for the construction of carrier devices for drugs, including particles, capsules and hydrogels. The devices are designed to achieve a controlled release of therapeutic agents in an attempt to fight against serious diseases, and to be used in advanced therapies, such as gene delivery or regenerative medicine.

Concepts: Pharmacology, Medicine, Tissue engineering, Drug addiction, Material, Materials, Sea, Polysaccharides


Mixed-linkage glucan : xyloglucan endotransglucosylase (MXE) is one of the three activities of the recently characterised hetero-trans-β-glucanase (HTG), which among land-plants is known only from Equisetum species. The biochemical details of the MXE reaction were incompletely understood - details that would promote understanding of MXE’s role in vivo and enable its full technological exploitation. We investigated HTG’s site of attack on one of its donor substrates, mixed-linkage (1→3),(1→4)-β-D-glucan (MLG), with radioactive oligosaccharides of xyloglucan as acceptor substrate. Comparing three different MLG preparations, we showed that the enzyme favours those with a high content of cellotetraose blocks. The reaction products were analysed by enzymic digestion, thin-layer chromatography, HPLC and gel-permeation chromatography. Equisetum HTG consistently cleaved the MLG at the third consecutive β-(1→4)-bond following (towards the reducing terminus) a β-(1→3)-bond. It then formed a β-(1→4)-bond between the MLG and the non-reducing terminal glucose residue of the xyloglucan oligosaccharide, consistent with its XTH subfamily membership. Using size-homogeneous barley MLG as donor substrate, we showed that HTG does not favour any particular region of the MLG chain relative the polysaccharide’s reducing and non-reducing termini; rather, it selects its target cellotetraosyl unit stochastically along the MLG molecule. This work improves our understanding of how enzymes can exhibit promiscuous substrate specificities and provides the foundations to explore strategies for engineering novel substrate specificities into transglycanases.

Concepts: Protein, Enzyme, Glucose, Enzyme substrate, Chromatography, Carbohydrate, Equisetum, Polysaccharides