Gellan gum is a complex polysaccharide produced commercially by the fermentation of the microorganism Sphingomonas elodea. It has gained popularity in the food and pharmaceutical industries due to its unique gelling, thickening and stabilizing properties. In this article, we will explore the various properties and applications of gellan gum across different sectors.
Chemical Structure and Properties
Gellan gum is composed of tetrasaccharide repeats of glucose, glucuronic acid and rhamnose. Under normal physiological conditions, gellan gum exists as a linear anionic polysaccharide. Its unique molecular structure allows it to form thermoreversible gels in the presence of ions like sodium and potassium. Some key properties of gellan gum include being tasteless, odorless, non-toxic and showing versatility across a wide range of pH levels and temperatures. Its gelling ability makes it suitable for various food applications while its stability in solution forms the basis of its usage in medicinal products.
Usage in Food Industry
Gellan gum has emerged as an important food additive due to factors like clarity, stability and tolerance for acidity, salts and sugars. Some major applications of gellan gum in the food industry include:
– As a thickening and gelling agent: It is used to thicken sauces, soups, dressings and similar products. It forms thermoreversible gels that melt smoothly in the mouth.
– Modifier in dairy products: Gellan gum helps modify the body and texture of products like yogurt and cream cheese without affecting their nutritional value.
– Stabilizer in fruit juices and fruit-based drinks: It maintains the clarity and stability of cloudy beverages by preventing sedimentation of fruit pulp.
– Glazes and coatings: Bakery items, meat products etc are coated with gellan gum mixtures to improve texture and prevent drying.
– Vegan substitutes: It is used to develop vegetarian analogs of meat and dairy products due to its meat- and fat-like properties.
– Health/diet foods: Low-calorie gellan gum gels are utilized in diet desserts, jellies, soups etc.
Usage in Pharmaceutical Products
Gellan gum possesses properties like bio-compatibility, non-antigenicity and non-toxicity which make it suitable for pharmaceutical applications. Some key uses of gellan gum in the pharmaceutical industry include:
– Sustained drug delivery: It can be used to develop sustained release tablets, capsules, beads and injectables for prolonged and controlled drug delivery.
– Tissue engineering: 3D scaffolds created using Gellan Gum facilitate cell growth and tissue regeneration applications.
– Wound healing: Gellan gum formulations show promise in burns and chronic wound dressing due to their moist wound healing property.
– Oral suspensions: Fine dispersion of active ingredients can be made into stable oral suspensions using gellan gum for pediatric drugs.
– Bio-adhesives: Mucoadhesive gels have been investigated for localized and targeted drug delivery to mucosal surfaces.
– Other uses: It also finds application as an excipient, emulsifier, suspension stabilizer and thickening agent in various medicinal formulations.
Gellan gum is a versatile polysaccharide with widespread commercial use owing to its unique gelling, thickening and stabilizing abilities. Research is underway to further explore its potential in newer application areas like bioplastics, tissue engineering scaffolds, hydrogels in 3D bioprinting etc. With advancements in fermentation technology, production costs are expected to decline which can boost adoption. Overall, gellan gum seems well-positioned to play a significant role in industrial sectors like food, pharmaceuticals and biomedical research going forward due to its favorable functional properties.
1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
2. We have leveraged AI tools to mine information and compile it