Biotechnology Letters

, Volume 28, Issue 21, pp 1701-1712

First online:

Bacterial alginates: from biosynthesis to applications

  • Uwe RemminghorstAffiliated withInstitute of Molecular BioSciences, Massey University
  • , Bernd H. A. RehmAffiliated withInstitute of Molecular BioSciences, Massey University Email author 

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Alginate is a polysaccharide belonging to the family of linear (unbranched), non-repeating copolymers, consisting of variable amounts of β-d-mannuronic acid and its C5-epimer α- l-guluronic acid linked via β-1,4-glycosidic bonds. Like DNA, alginate is a negatively charged polymer, imparting material properties ranging from viscous solutions to gel-like structures in the presence of divalent cations. Bacterial alginates are synthesized by only two bacterial genera, Pseudomonas and Azotobacter, and have been extensively studied over the last 40 years. While primarily synthesized in form of polymannuronic acid, alginate undergoes chemical modifications comprising acetylation and epimerization, which occurs during periplasmic transfer and before final export through the outer membrane. Alginate with its unique material properties and characteristics has been increasingly considered as biomaterial for medical applications. The genetic modification of alginate producing microorganisms could enable biotechnological production of new alginates with unique, tailor-made properties, suitable for medical and industrial applications.


alginate alginate polymerisation alginate secretion Azotobacter biomaterial biopolymer guluronic acid mannuronic acid Pseudomonas