Alginate, a biopolymer, has wide range of industrial and pharmaceutical applications. The annual consumption of alginate by different industrial sectors is 30,000 metric tons, particularly in food sector as a viscosifier, stabilizer, thickener, emulsifier, gelling and water binding agent. In pharmaceutical industry, it is utilized in traditional wound dressing, in some formulations for preventing gastric reflux (Gaviscon, Bisodol, and Asilone) and also serve as the main component in dental impression material. Alginate immobilized cells have been used in cell transplantation where it acts as the barrier between transplant (immobilized cell) and host immune system.
The alginate is commercially obtained from farmed brown seaweeds such as Laminaria hyperborea, Laminaria digitata, Macrocystis pyrifera and Ascophyllum nodosum. Due to difference in chemical composition and product quality, only few species of seaweed are considered appropriate for extraction. Therefore bacterial alginates, produced by Pseudomonas and Azotobacter through fermentation, serve as the alternative and promising tool to fulfill the requirements. The alginate production by microbial fermentation is considered to be better strategy to obtain the product of known composition, unaffected by tides and the place of production can be set any where to utilize cheap substrate.
At present, Pakistan spends a lot of foreign exchange to import the desired amount of alginate for industrial sector. The researchers working in Institute of Biochemistry and Biotechnology, University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences, Pakistan were successful in developing the technique for production of alginate from agricultural waste by the process of fermentation. The alginate produced was of high purity and can be used successfully to achieve the desired demands.
SHAGUFTA SAEED,
Lahore, February 6.