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Unravelling the nanostructure of strawberry fruit pectins by endo-polygalacturonase digestion and atomic force microscopy

Paniagua, Candelas, Kirby, Andrew R., Gunning, A. Patrick, Morris, Victor J., Matas, Antonio J., Quesada, Miguel A., Mercado, José A.
Food chemistry 2017 v.224 pp. 270-279
Aspergillus aculeatus, atomic force microscopy, borates, digestion, fruits, nanomaterials, pectins, polygalacturonase, sodium carbonate, strawberries
Pectins analysed by AFM are visualized as individual chains, branched or unbranched, and aggregates. To investigate the nature of these structures, sodium carbonate soluble pectins from strawberry fruits were digested with endo-polygalacturonase M2 from Aspergillus aculeatus and visualized by AFM. A gradual decrease in the length of chains was observed as result of the treatment, reaching a minimum LN value of 22nm. The branches were not visible after 2h of enzymatic incubation. The size of complexes also diminished significantly with the enzymatic digestion. A treatment to hydrolyse rhamnogalacturonan II borate diester bonds neither affected chains length or branching nor complex size but reduced the density of aggregates. These results suggest that chains are formed by a mixture of homogalacturonan and more complex molecules composed by a homogalacturonan unit linked to an endo-PG resistant unit. Homogalacturonan is a structural component of the complexes and rhamnogalacturonan II could be involved in their formation.