Enzymatic degradation of cell wall and related plant polysaccharides

Crit Rev Biotechnol. 1989;8(4):237-74. doi: 10.3109/07388558909148194.


Polysaccharides such as starch, cellulose and other glucans, pectins, xylans, mannans, and fructans are present as major structural and storage materials in plants. These constituents may be degraded and modified by endogenous enzymes during plant growth and development. In plant pathogenesis by microorganisms, extracellular enzymes secreted by infected strains play a major role in plant tissue degradation and invasion of the host. Many of these polysaccharide-degrading enzymes are also produced by microorganisms widely used in industrial enzyme production. Most commerical enzyme preparations contain an array of secondary activities in addition to the one or two principal components which have standardized activities. In the processing of unpurified carbohydrate materials such as cereals, fruits, and tubers, these secondary enzyme activities offer major potential for improving process efficiency. Use of more defined combinations of industrial polysaccharases should allow final control of existing enzyme processes and should also lead to the development of novel enzymatic applications.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cell Wall / metabolism
  • Industry
  • Plants / metabolism*
  • Polysaccharides / metabolism*


  • Polysaccharides