Ultrasonic degradation has become a promising strategy for producing modified pectin (MP). In this study, the impact of ultrasonic treatment at various pH values (4.0, 7.0, and 10.0) on the macromolecular, structural and rheological characteristics of citrus pectin was investigated. Results demonstrated that ultrasonic irradiation at the higher pH led to larger reductions in the intrinsic viscosity and weight-average molecular weight of pectin. The degradation kinetics of pectin at different pH values under ultrasound well fitted to a second-order reaction kinetics model. Acoustic cavitation, β-elimination, and demethylation led to the breakage of glycosidic linkages of side chains and methoxyl groups of pectin, but did not have noticeable influences on the main chain of pectin. The ultrasonic treatment at a high pH led to an apparent change in the rheological characteristics of pectin. Therefore, ultrasonic treatment at various pH values can be developed as a viable means to prepare desirable MP.
Keywords: Macromolecular property; Pectin; Rheology; Structural characterization; Ultrasound; pH.
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