Identification of best Sponge-Associated Chitinolytic Bacteria

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Identification of best Sponge-Associated Chitinolytic Bacteria

Rubber, a natural native polymer for the US has been replaced by synthetic polymers to overcome the increasing demand for synthetic plastic products in the post-World War II era. The large-scale production of plastic due to its heavy consumption, resulted in plastic pollution, which is a major contributor to global pollution. It ledto the discovery of ‘compostable’ Biopolymers (natural polymers occurring in living organisms) as a suitable and environmentally friendly alternative to the synthetic polymer. Biopolymers are composed of sugars (polysaccharides), amino acids (proteins), and nucleic acids. Its composition determines its characters like strength, elasticity, firmness, etc. The most abundant biopolymers are cellulose (from plants) and chitin (from animals). Chitin thought found in the exoskeleton of arthropods is a promising natural polymer, with the ability to produced functional material for human consumption, due to its striking combination, affordability, biological characters, and biodegradability.

Chitin on interaction with other molecules possesses a long-range of biomedical uses like antioxidant, antifungal, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and even anti-cancerous. It also has the fat-binding and film-forming ability, which adds to its biomedical applications.

Key biomedical properties are biocompatibility, biodegradability, and non-toxic properties. Previously, it had been used as a preservative and supplement, it has proved to be applicable as a plant growth regulator and fertilizer additive. Its fat-binding ability makes it a key element in wastewater treatment to help remove dyes and heavy metals from water. Deacetylation of chitin results in the formation of chitosan.

This Deacetylation has been reported by some fungi, bacteria, and insects. The bacteria responsible for forming chitosan are symbiont with marine sponges. These bacteria had not been identified and studied properly, therefore researchers at the Lab of Marine Molecular Biology and Pharmacology, at the University Manado,  overcame this gap by attempting to screen and identify sponge-associated chitinolytic bacteria and their chitosan forming capability. The major sponge-associated bacteria were identified as Cribrochalina sp. With 5 different bacterial isolates (represented as SS1, SS2, SS3, SS4, and SS5). All the isolates were examined for colony characteristics, chitinase-producing ability, the transformation of chitin to chitosan ability, chitin deacetylase production ability,

Results showed varied chitinolytic activity by a different bacterium, with SS19 B. subtilis strain) being the strongest chitinolytic. The precipitates of chitosan were also recovered, owing to the ability of bacteria to transform chitin into chitosan. Chitin deacetylase (CDA) catalyzes this conversion, which is the key step in chitosan production, that is why it controls the chitosan quality. The deacetylation process of chitin by bacteria could replace the degradable chitin with chitosan by a chemical process that used NaOH for deacetylation.

Fungi, Insects, and bacteria have reported producing CAD, of which bacterial strains function of producing CAD was cost-effective and best for large scale fermentation system. Thus, the study suggests that bacterial isolation can be an effective technique for degrading chitin to chitosan. This study could be used to expand applications of B. subtilis strain for producing chitinase and form chitosan, thus increasing its industrial use in areas like pharmacy, medicine, agriculture, water treatment, etc. changing it to an eco-friendly process.


Chitin, biopolymers, compostable polymers, pollution, plastic, chitinolytic bacteria, sponge, Chitin deacetylase, chitinase, chitosan, eco-friendly.