Carbohydrate polymers

The glycogen of Galdieria sulphuraria as alternative to starch for the production of slowly digestible and resistant glucose polymers.

PMID 28504180


Highly branched glucose polymers produced from starch are applied in various products, such as peritoneal dialysis solutions and sports drinks. Due to its insoluble, granular nature, the use of native starch as substrate requires an energy consuming pre-treatment to achieve solubilization at the expense of process costs. Glycogen, like starch, is also a natural glucose polymer that shows more favorable features, since it is readily soluble in cold water and more accessible by enzymes. The extremophilic red microalga Galdieria sulphuraria accumulates large amounts of a small, highly branched glycogen that could represent a good alternative to starch as substrate for the production of highly branched glucose polymers. In the present work, we analyzed the structure-properties relationship of this glycogen in its native form and after treatment with amyloglucosidase and compared it to highly branched polymers produced from potato starch. Glycogen showed lower susceptibility to digestive enzymes and significantly decreased viscosity in solution compared to polymers derived from starch, properties conferred by its shorter side chains and higher branch density. The action of amyloglucosidase on native glycogen was somewhat limited due to the high branch density but resulted in the production of a hyperbranched polymer that was virtually resistant to digestive enzymes.