, Volume 1, Issue 2–3, pp 177–190 | Cite as

Physiology of microbial degradation of chitin and chitosan

  • Graham W. Gooday


Chitin is produced in enormous quantities in the biosphere, chiefly as the major structural component of most fungi and invertebrates. Its degradation is chiefly by bacteria and fungi, by chitinolysis via chitinases, but also via deacetylation to chitosan, which is hydrolysed by chitosanases. Chitinases and chitosanases have a range of roles in the organisms producing them: autolytic, morphogenetic or nutritional. There are increasing examples of their roles in pathogenesis and symbiosis. A range of chitinase genes have been cloned, and the potential use for genetically manipulated organisms over-producing chitinases is being investigated. Chitinases also have a range of uses in processing chitinous material and producing defined oligosaccharides.

Key words

biodegradation chitin chitin deactylase chitinase chitosan chitosanase 


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© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Graham W. Gooday
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Molecular and Cell BiologyUniversity of Aberdeen, Marischal CollegeAberdeenUK

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