Agar is a major cell wall carbohydrate of red macroalgae (Rhodophyta). Sugars derived from agar, such as agarooligosaccharides (AOSs), neoagarooligosaccharides (NAOSs), neoagarobiose (NAB), and 3,6-anhydro-l-galactose (L-AHG), possess various physiological activities. These agar-derived sugars can be produced by hydrolysis using chemicals or agarolytic enzymes. Despite the industrial potential of agar-derived sugars, their application has been hampered mainly due to the absence of efficient processes for the liquefaction and saccharification of agar. In this review, we have focused on strategies for producing high value-added sugars from agarose via chemical or enzymatic liquefaction and enzymatic saccharification. The liquefaction of agarose is a key step for preventing gelling and increasing the solubility of agarose in water by prehydrolyzing agarose into AOSs or NAOSs. For the industrial use of agar-derived sugars, AOS, NAOS, NAB, and L-AHG can be used as functional biomaterials owing to their physiological activities such as antiinflammation, skin whitening, and moisturizing. Recently, it was reported that AHG could be considered as a new anticariogenic sugar to replace xylitol. This review provides a comprehensive overview of processes for the hydrolysis of agar or agarose to produce high value-added sugars and the industrial application of these sugars.
- Agarolytic enzyme
- Physiological activity
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology