Distiller’s waste as a substrate for chitosan production


Natural polymers are today used in numerous commercial products. Chitin is, after cellulose, the most abundant polysaccharide found on earth. Fungi, insects, shrimps and crabs, for example, all produce chitin. Chitin can be chemically modified into a biotechnologically-important form, called chitosan, which is a deacetylated derivative of chitin. Desirable properties of chitosan include its biocompatibility, biodegradability, low toxicity and use in diverse applications, e.g. as a flocculent, clarifier, affinity chromatography matrix, promoter of plant disease resistance, anticancer and antimicrobial agent, and promoter of wound-healing. Traditionally, chitin and chitosan are obtained from shrimp and crab shells, but for several reasons, it is of interest to explore alternative sources for chitosan production. 


In the present project, we will explore the use of chitin from filamentous fungi as an alternative starting material for industrial chitosan production. Fungi can be grown on various substrates, and in the project, we will investigate the use of distiller’s waste as a substrate for fungal growth and characterise the optimal growth conditions for chitin production. We will also prepare chitosan from the fungal-derived chitin, and test product efficacy in various bioassays. The aim of these experiments is to investigate if such product(s) show potential for future biomedical applications. The project is a collaboration between different research groups within the MicroDrivE project, and also with a research group at Lund University with expertise in bioassays.
Bengt Guss, Department of Microbiology, Box 7025, 750 07 Uppsala
Bengt.Guss@mikrob.slu.se, +46 (0) 18 673205, 070-539 7262