Alginate is a linear copolymer consisting of units of α-L-guluronic and β-D-mannuronic acid which is widely used due to its thickening, stabilizing and gelling properties. These characteristics mean that it has many applications in the food, textile, paper, cosmetics and pharmaceutical industries, as well as in the medical area. Currently, the main source of alginate for such applications is brown algae; however, this biopolymer can be obtained through biosynthesis, using micro-organisms of the genera Pseudomonas and Azotobacter. The bacterial production of alginate represents an interesting alternative since, in addition to enabling the production of high quality polymers with predetermined and specific characteristics, it can reduce the environmental impact in areas from which the seaweed is collected. In recent years, several studies related to the production of alginate by microorganisms have been performed to evaluate the production process and metabolic pathway of biosynthesis, to characterize the material produced and to determine the potential applications of this new material. The rapid development of new applications of alginate in the medical and pharmaceutical areas, as well as the discovery of the unique immunological properties of this material, has led to increased interest in finding novel processes for its production. This article examines aspects of the production of bacterial alginate and the characteristics of the material obtained, and also addresses potential and innovative applications for the use of this material.
Azotobacter; Pseudomonas; alginate; bacterial alginate; biopolymer