Biotechnological processes for chitin recovery out of crustacean waste: A mini-review|
Gortari, María Cecilia & Hours, Roque Alberto
Background: Chitin is an important natural resource. The annual worldwide production is estimated in approximately 1010-1012 ton. It is produced by arthropods (insects and crustaceans), molluscs and fungi. Its main biological function is structural. Crustacean shells are the most important chitin source for commercial use due to its high content and ready availability. Chitin and its derivatives have great economical value because of their numerous applications: food, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, textile industries, waste water treatment and agriculture. In nature, chitin is closely associated with proteins, minerals, lipid and pigments, which have to be removed.
Results: Several techniques to extract chitin from different sources have been reported. The most common method for recovery of chitin from crustacean shells is the chemical procedure. It involves two mayor steps: elimination of inorganic matter (demineralization) and extraction of protein matter (deproteination) using strong acids and bases. However, these processes may cause depolymerization affecting the polymer properties such as molecular weight, viscosity and degree of acetylation. In addition, the chemical purification of chitin is hazardous, energy consuming and threatening to the environment. As an alternative to the chemical process, different biological processes have been investigated: microbiological fermentation and methodologies using enzymatic crude extracts or isolated enzymes.
Conclusions: The results reported are extremely variable; however, they offer new perspectives for the production of chitin with the concomitant reduction of the environmental impact.
biological extraction; chitin production; crustacean waste