Curdlan and other bacterial (1→3)-β-d-glucans
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Three structural classes of (1→3)-β-d-glucans are encountered in some important soil-dwelling, plant-associated or human pathogenic bacteria. Linear (1→3)-β-glucans and side-chain-branched (1→3,1→2)-β-glucans are major constituents of capsular materials, with roles in bacterial aggregation, virulence and carbohydrate storage. Cyclic (1→3,1→6)-β-glucans are predominantly periplasmic, serving in osmotic adaptation. Curdlan, the linear (1→3)-β-glucan from Agrobacterium, has unique rheological and thermal gelling properties, with applications in the food industry and other sectors. This review includes information on the structure, properties and molecular genetics of the bacterial (1→3)-β-glucans, together with an overview of the physiology and biotechnology of curdlan production and applications of this biopolymer and its derivatives.