Xylanthe Second Most Abundant Plant Cell Wall Component and Natural Polymer

Plant cell walls can be considered to be the main renewable resource formed in the process of photosyn-thetic fixation of carbon dioxide. They are composed of three major polymeric constituents: cellulose, an insoluble skeletal polysaccharide composed of ^-D-glucopyranosyl residues linked ^-1,4-glycosidically; hemicellulose, a series of matrix and crosslinking het-eropolysaccharides that include a variety of glucans, mannans, arabinans, galactans, and xylans; and lignin, a complex polyphenol. As a part of the carbon cycle, all three constituents are degraded by specialized enzyme systems produced by microorganisms. This chapter is devoted to the enzymes that degrade the major plant hemicellulose, xylan. After cellulose, xylan is the most abundant polysaccharide in nature. Xylanolytic enzymes have been extensively reviewed in the past (1-5). Books covering xylan and xylanases exclusively have also been published (6, 7).

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