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Except where noted otherwise, data are given for materials in their standard state (at 25 °C, 100 kPa)
Levan, a homopolysaccharide which is composed of D-fructofuranosyl residues joined by 2,6 with multiple branches by 2,1 linkages has great potential as a functional biopolymer in foods, feeds, cosmetics, and the pharmaceutical and chemical industries. Levan can be used as food or a feed additive with prebiotic and hypocholesterolemic effects. Levan is also shown to exert excellent cell-proliferating, skin moisturizing, and skin irritation-alleviating effects as a blending component in cosmetics. Levan derivatives such as sulfated, phosphated, or acetylated levans are asserted to be anti-AIDS agents. In addition, levan is used as a coating material in a drug delivery formulation. Levan also has a number of industrial applications such as a surfactant for household use due to its excellent surface-active properties, a glycol/levan aqueous two-phase system for the partitioning of proteins, etc. However, there are some limitations for the industrial applications of levan due to its weak chemical stability in solution and the complex process required to purify levan. Once the limitations are solved, the market for levan will gradually increase in the various fields.
Levan is a biopolymer that is naturally produced by microorganisms. In recent years, microorganisms have been genetic manipulated for the biotechnological production of biopolymers with tailored properties suitable for high-value medical application such as tissue engineering and drug delivery and for use in the food and biotechnology industries.
Levans are a group of fructans; polymers of fructose forming a non-structural carbohydrate, which in the case of levans can themselves link together to form super-molecules comprising even hundreds of thousands.
The shortest levan is 6-kestose, essentially a chain of three fructose molecules with a few extra atoms in one segment. Levans are produced in almost all bacterial versions of fructan production, as well as being possible to produce by fracturing soybean mucilage.
- ^ Kang et al. (2009). "Levan: Applications and Perspectives". Microbial Production of Biopolymers and Polymer Precursors. Caister Academic Press. ISBN 978-1-904455-36-3.
- ^ Rehm BHA (editor). (2009). Microbial Production of Biopolymers and Polymer Precursors: Applications and Perspectives. Caister Academic Press. ISBN 978-1-904455-36-3.