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Biotecnología Aplicada

On-line version ISSN 1027-2852


RAMIREZ, Miguel Á; RODRIGUEZ, Aida T; ALFONSO, Luis  and  PENICHE, Carlos. Chitin and its derivatives as biopolymers with potential agricultural applications. Biotecnol Apl [online]. 2010, vol.27, n.4, pp.270-276. ISSN 1027-2852.

Chitin is a biodegradable polymer widely spread in nature. It is mainly obtained form crustacean shells. Chitin and its derivatives have shown to be effective in controlling plagues and plants diseases. Their mechanism of action is strongly linked to their chemical structures. These mechanisms can result from the direct action on the pathogen or can be a consequence of its capacity to induce defensive mechanisms on plants. In any case, the effect is their protection against various vegetable diseases, before and after harvest. The addition of chitin and its derivatives to the soil favours the growth and activity of many chitinolytic organisms that constitute biological controls and are natural enemies of many agents responsible for vegetable plagues and diseases, generating a synergistic effect. On the other side, these biopolymers also favour the growth and development of beneficial microorganisms that establish synergistic relationships with plants, such a as mycorrhizas or Rhizobium species. On top of that, increasing the microbial population and activity in the soil improves the properties of nutrients and their availability. As growth regulators, it has been established that these biopolymers accelerate seeds germination, the ability of plants to grow as well as the agricultural yield. It is concluded that chitin and its derivatives have great potential for applications in agriculture. It is foreseen that in the future these biopolymers will be used in greater extension, mainly for substituting actual chemical pesticides or as growth regulators.

Keywords : chitin; agriculture; biopolymer; growth regulator; biological control.

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