Marine Biotechnology

, 13:823 | Cite as

The Importance of Chitin in the Marine Environment

  • Claudiana P. Souza
  • Bianca C. Almeida
  • Rita R. Colwell
  • Irma N. G. Rivera


Chitin is the most abundant renewable polymer in the oceans and is an important source of carbon and nitrogen for marine organisms. The process of chitin degradation is a key step in the cycling of nutrients in the oceans and chitinolytic bacteria play a significant role in this process. These bacteria are autochthonous to both marine and freshwater ecosystems and produce chitinases that degrade chitin, an insoluble polysaccharide, to a biologically useful form. In this brief review, a description of the structure of chitin and diversity of chitinolytic bacteria in the oceans is provided, in the context of the significance of chitin degradation for marine life.


Chitin Oceans Chitinolytic bacteria Chitinase Biodiversity Sustainability 



The authors are grateful to FAPESP and CNPq for the financial support. C.P.S. acknowledges a postdoctoral fellowship from FAPESP (Fundação de Amparo a Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Claudiana P. Souza
    • 1
  • Bianca C. Almeida
    • 1
  • Rita R. Colwell
    • 2
    • 3
  • Irma N. G. Rivera
    • 1
  1. 1.Instituto de Ciências BiomédicasUniversidade de São PauloSão PauloBrazil
  2. 2.Maryland Pathogen Research InstituteUniversity of MarylandCollege ParkUSA
  3. 3.University of Maryland Institute for Advanced Computer StudiesUniversity of MarylandCollege ParkUSA

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