The interplay of degree of methylesterification (DM), pH, temperature, and concentration on the macromolecular interactions of pectin in solution has been explored. Small-angle X-ray scattering complemented by atomic force microscopy and molecular dynamics was employed to probe chain dimensions and solution structure. Two length scales have been observed with the first level of structure characterising chain clusters with sizes ranging between 100-200 nm. The second level of structure arises from single biopolymer chains with a radius of gyration between ∼6 and 42 nm. The development of a range of macromolecular dimensions in vitro and in silico shows that the chain flexibility increases with DM and at acidic pH, whereas hydrogen bonding is the responsible thermodynamic driving force for cluster formation. High methyl pectins create structures of lower fractal dimension with less efficient packing. This work unveils pectin conformations covering most of its industrially and biologically relevant environments, enabling rational design of advanced biomaterials based on pectin.
- Department of Biological and Geographical Sciences - Subject Leader Biomedicine/Pharmacology
- School of Applied Sciences
- Cellular and Molecular Models of Disease Centre - Member
- Biopolymer Research Centre - Member
- Microbial Therapeutics and Infection Control Centre - Associate Member