Chitin Prevalence and Function in Bacteria, Fungi and Protists

  • Lea Steinfeld
  • Ali Vafaei
  • Janin Rösner
  • Hans MerzendorferEmail author
Part of the Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology book series (AEMB, volume 1142)


Chitin is an important structural polysaccharide, which supports and organizes extracellular matrices in a variety of taxonomic groups including bacteria, fungi, protists, and animals. Additionally, chitin has been recognized as a molecule that is required for Rhizobia-legume symbiosis and involved in arbuscular mycorrhizal signaling in the symbiotic interaction between terrestrial plants and fungi. Moreover, it serves as a unique molecular pattern in the plant defense system against pathogenic fungi and parasites, and in the innate and adaptive immune response of mammals and humans. In this review, we will focus on the prevalence and structural function of chitin in bacteria, fungi, and protists, with a particular focus on the evolution of chitin synthases and the function of chitin oligosaccharides as a signaling molecule in symbiosis and immunity.


Rhizobia Fungi Cell wall Protists Skeleton 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lea Steinfeld
    • 1
  • Ali Vafaei
    • 1
  • Janin Rösner
    • 1
  • Hans Merzendorfer
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Chemistry and Biology – Molecular BiologyUniversity of SiegenSiegenGermany

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