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BioMed Research International
Volume 2015, Article ID 857639, 8 pages
Research Article

A High Diversity in Chitinolytic and Chitosanolytic Species and Enzymes and Their Oligomeric Products Exist in Soil with a History of Chitin and Chitosan Exposure

1Institute for Biology and Biotechnology of Plants, WWU Münster, Schlossplatz 8, 48143 Münster, Germany
2Research and Development Laboratory, Sri Biotech Laboratories India Ltd., Hyderabad 500 034, India
3Vivekananda Institute of Tropical Mycology (VINSTROM), Ramakrishna Mission Vidyapith, Chennai 600 004, India
4Gillet Chitosan EURL, Laurent Bonnevay 17, 54100 Nancy, France

Received 11 December 2014; Revised 31 March 2015; Accepted 15 April 2015

Academic Editor: Spyridon Ntougias

Copyright © 2015 Malathi Nampally et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Chitin is one of the most abundant biomolecules on earth, and its partially de-N-acetylated counterpart, chitosan, is one of the most promising biotechnological resources due to its diversity in structure and function. Recently, chitin and chitosan modifying enzymes (CCMEs) have gained increasing interest as tools to engineer chitosans with specific functions and reliable performance in biotechnological and biomedical applications. In a search for novel CCME, we isolated chitinolytic and chitosanolytic microorganisms from soils with more than ten-years history of chitin and chitosan exposure and screened them for chitinase and chitosanase isoenzymes as well as for their patterns of oligomeric products by incubating their secretomes with chitosan polymers. Of the 60 bacterial strains isolated, only eight were chitinolytic and/or chitosanolytic, while 20 out of 25 fungal isolates were chitinolytic and/or chitosanolytic. The bacterial isolates produced rather similar patterns of chitinolytic and chitosanolytic enzymes, while the fungal isolates produced a much broader range of different isoenzymes. Furthermore, diverse mixtures of oligosaccharides were formed when chitosan polymers were incubated with the secretomes of select fungal species. Our study indicates that soils with a history of chitin and chitosan exposure are a good source of novel CCME for chitosan bioengineering.