Nowadays, consumers are increasingly aware of the relationship between diet and health, showing a greater preference of products from natural origin. In the last decade, seaweeds have outlined as one of the natural sources with more potential to obtain bioactive carbohydrates. Numerous seaweed polysaccharides have aroused the interest of the scientific community, due to their biological activities and their high potential on biomedical, functional food and technological applications. To obtain polysaccharides from seaweeds, it is necessary to find methodologies that improve both yield and quality and that they are profitable. Nowadays, environmentally friendly extraction technologies are a viable alternative to conventional methods for obtaining these products, providing several advantages like reduced number of solvents, energy and time. On the other hand, chemical modification of their structure is a useful approach to improve their solubility and biological properties, and thus enhance the extent of their potential applications since some uses of polysaccharides are still limited. The present review aimed to compile current information about the most relevant seaweed polysaccharides, available extraction and modification methods, as well as a summary of their biological activities, to evaluate knowledge gaps and future trends for the industrial applications of these compounds.Key teaching pointsStructure and biological functions of main seaweed polysaccharides.Emerging extraction methods for sulfate polysaccharides.Chemical modification of seaweeds polysaccharides.Potential industrial applications of seaweed polysaccharides.Biological activities, knowledge gaps and future trends of seaweed polysaccharides.
Keywords: Algae polysaccharides; biological activities; chemical modification; novel extraction methods.