Fermentation for Natural Hydrocolloids

Introduction of Natural Hydrocolloids

Hydrocolloids are a heterogeneous group of long chain polymers (polysaccharides and proteins). Natural hydrocolloids are generally from natural sources such as plant, animal and microbial sources and they include:

  • Plant - pectin, carrageenan, cellulose gum, locust bean gum, guar gum
  • Animal origin - gelatine
  • Microbial sources - Xanthan gum and gellan gum

Fermentation for Natural Hydrocolloids

Natural hydrocolloids function as gelling agents, thickeners and/or stabilizers in many food products. They can perform the same functions as commercially synthesized colloids. Moreover, compared to synthetic hydrocolloids, natural hydrocolloids have many irreplaceable advantages, such as biodegradability, biocompatibility, non-toxicity and low cost, and easily available in nature.

Application of Natural Hydrocolloids in Food Industry

  • Gelling agents: Form thermostable gels together with calcium salts that provide structure to all types of meat, fish or vegetable products.
  • Moisture retainers: their high water absorption capacity makes it possible to obtain a pleasant fat-like taste in the mouth while reducing the absorption of calories by the body.
  • Thickeners: Increase the viscosity of food when cold, and provide consistency to creams or fillings.
  • Protective film formation: Allow the formation of an edible coating on the food surface, preventing moisture loss during the freezing-thawing process.
  • Stabilizers: Provide proper elasticity and strength to foods, control syneresis, and provide stability during cooking or baking.
  • Tougheners: Provide a smooth and uniform texture to foods, enhance flavor and improve the appearance and gloss of foods.

Fermentation for Natural HydrocolloidsFig 2. Classification of hydrocolloids (Jayakodyd, M. M.; et al. 2022)

Fermentation for Natural Hydrocolloids

Currently, a lot of experiments have shown that some microbial strains can display unique properties that make them particularly suitable for large-scale fermentation and production of natural hydrocolloids. For example, xanthan gum is an anionic polysaccharide obtained by fermenting a carbon hydrate with natural strains of Xanthomonas campestries. Therefore, scientists are continuously developing a variety of robust and scalable approach to fermentation, recovery and purification of natural hydrocolloids. To maximize the cost-effective production of natural hydrocolloids, the growth and production conditions for the base strain during the fermentation process need to be continually optimized. Moreover, the optimal seed strain for bioreactor inoculation also needs to be carefully identified, which include the specific media components (including nitrogen, carbon and phosphate, as well as their concentration) and inoculation time for large-scale production.

  • Natural hydrocolloids: Structuring agents

The demand for natural foods has been growing as people are becoming more conscious of their health. In the food industry, hydrocolloids are often used as structuring agents to increase the viscoelasticity properties of the composite breads. For example, microbial dextran is a natural hydrocolloid that can be used as a bread texture improver.

  • Natural hydrocolloids: Thickening or gelling agents in foods

Natural hydrocolloids are commonly used as thickening or gelling agents in foods, most animal-free meat and dairy substitutes contain many additives such as sweeteners, flavors, colorants and stabilising agents, natural hydrocolloids based on bacterial cellulose provide a sustainable source and "clean-label" vegetarian alternative to such additives. Novel microorganism strains have been successfully identified for fermentation to produce this bio-based hydrocolloid. During the fermentation process, these strains are able to produce a high yield of cellulose fibers when glucose is added to the bioreactor. In the end, this bio-based hydrocolloid provides better texture and mouthfeel to the meat alternative products.

Hydrocolloid used in the food industry and their functional propertiesFig 3. Hydrocolloid used in the food industry and their functional properties (Jayakodyd, M. M.; et al. 2022)

Our Services

BOC Sciences provides fermentation CDMO service for natural hydrocolloids. With our complete quality management system and strong fermentation capabilities, we are able to help customers facilitate their fermentation related projects and support them from laboratory to commercialization.

Workflow of Our Service

Workflow of Our Service


  1. Jayakodyd, M. M.; et al. Hydrocolloid and water soluble polymers used in the food industry and their functional properties: a review. Polymer Bulletin. 2022.

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