This article compares the properties of bacterial cellulose/fish collagen composites (BC/Col) after enzymatic and chemical cross-linking. In our methodology, two transglutaminases are used for enzymatic cross-linking-one recommended for the meat and the other proposed for the fish industry-and pre-oxidated BC (oxBC) is used for chemical cross-linking. The structure of the obtained composites is characterized by scanning electron microscopy, thermogravimetric analysis, X-ray diffraction, and Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, and their functional properties by mechanical and water barrier tests. While polymer chains in uncross-linked BC/Col are intertwined by H-bonds, new covalent bonds in enzymatically cross-linked ones are formed-resulting in increased thermal stability and crystallinity of the material. The C2-C3 bonds cleavage in D-glucose units, due to BC oxidation, cause secondary alcohol groups to vanish in favor of the carbonyl groups' formation, thus reducing the number of H-bonded OHs. Thermal stability and crystallinity of oxBC/Col remain lower than those of BC/Col. The BC/Col formation did not affect tensile strength and water vapor permeability of BC, but enzymatic cross-linking with TGGS improved them significantly.
Keywords: bacterial cellulose; collagen; cross-linking; ex situ modification; structural characteristics.