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Natural gum from plum tree

Natural gums are polysaccharides of natural origin, capable of causing a large increase in a solution's viscosity, even at small concentrations. They are mostly botanical gums, found in the woody elements of plants or in seed coatings.

Human uses

Gums are used in the food industry as thickening agents, gelling agents, emulsifying agents, and stabilizers, and in other industrial adhesives, binding agents, crystal inhibitors, clarifying agents, encapsulating agents, flocculating agents, swelling agents, foam stabilizers, etc. When consumed by humans, many of these gums are fermented by the microbes that inhabit the lower gastrointestinal tract (microbiome) and may influence the ecology and functions of these microscopic communities.[1][2]

Commercial significance

Humans have used natural gums for various purposes, including chewing and the manufacturing of a wide range of products - such as varnish and lacquerware. Before the invention of synthetic equivalents, trade in gum formed part of the economy in places such as the Arabian peninsula (whence the name "gum arabic"), West Africa,[3] East Africa (copal) and northern New Zealand (kauri gum).

Examples

Natural gums can be classified according to their origin. They can also be classified as uncharged or ionic polymers (polyelectrolytes). Examples include (with E number food additive code):

Source Classification Natural gum E number biological origin
obtained from seaweeds Polyelectrolytes Agar E406
obtained from seaweeds Polyelectrolytes Alginic acid E400
obtained from seaweeds Polyelectrolytes Sodium alginate E401
obtained from seaweeds Polyelectrolytes Carrageenan E407
obtained from non-marine botanical resources Polyelectrolytes Gum arabic E414 from the sap of Acacia trees
obtained from non-marine botanical resources Polyelectrolytes Gum ghatti from the sap of Anogeissus trees
obtained from non-marine botanical resources Polyelectrolytes Gum tragacanth E413 from the sap of Astragalus shrubs
obtained from non-marine botanical resources Polyelectrolytes Karaya gum E416 from the sap of Sterculia trees
obtained from non-marine botanical resources Uncharged Guar gum E412 from guar beans
obtained from non-marine botanical resources Uncharged Locust bean gum E410 from the seeds of the carob tree
obtained from non-marine botanical resources Uncharged Beta-glucan from oat or barley bran
obtained from non-marine botanical resources Uncharged Dammar gum from the sap of Dipterocarpaceae trees
obtained from non-marine botanical resources Uncharged Glucomannan E425 from the konjac plant
obtained from non-marine botanical resources Uncharged Psyllium seed husks from the Plantago plant
obtained from non-marine botanical resources Uncharged Tara gum E417 from the seeds of the tara tree
produced by bacterial fermentation Polyelectrolytes Gellan gum E418
produced by bacterial fermentation Polyelectrolytes Xanthan gum E415

References

  1. ^ Hehemann, Jan-Hendrik; Kelly, Amelia G.; Pudlo, Nicholas A.; Martens, Eric C.; Boraston, Alisdair B. (27 November 2012). "Bacteria of the human gut microbiome catabolize red seaweed glycans with carbohydrate-active enzyme updates from extrinsic microbes". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 109 (48): 19786–19791. Bibcode:2012PNAS..10919786H. doi:10.1073/pnas.1211002109. PMC 3511707. PMID 23150581.
  2. ^ Ostrowski, Matthew P.; La Rosa, Sabina Leanti; Kunath, Benoit J.; Robertson, Andrew; Pereira, Gabriel; Hagen, Live H.; Varghese, Neha J.; Qiu, Ling; Yao, Tianming; Flint, Gabrielle; Li, James; McDonald, Sean P.; Buttner, Duna; Pudlo, Nicholas A.; Schnizlein, Matthew K.; Young, Vincent B.; Brumer, Harry; Schmidt, Thomas M.; Terrapon, Nicolas; Lombard, Vincent; Henrissat, Bernard; Hamaker, Bruce; Eloe-Fadrosh, Emiley A.; Tripathi, Ashootosh; Pope, Phillip B.; Martens, Eric C. (April 2022). "Mechanistic insights into consumption of the food additive xanthan gum by the human gut microbiota". Nature Microbiology. 7 (4): 556–569. doi:10.1038/s41564-022-01093-0. hdl:11250/3003739. PMID 35365790. S2CID 247866305.
  3. ^ Wiseman, Nicholas Patrick, ed. (1838). "The French in Africa". The Dublin Review. London: Tablet Publishing Company. 4 (7): 188, 189. Rivalries of a commercial nature have necessarily existed between the British and French merchants on [the West African] coast, especially with reference to the trade in gum, which is very lucrative, yielding very commonly returns not much under cent per cent. [...] Ġum is, in fact, an article with which the chief manufacturers of England and france cannot well dispense. It is used in almost every process of dyeing, in the printing of cottons, in the fabrication of silks, ribbons, lawns, gauzes, cambrics, and hats. It is frequently an ingredient in medical and confectionary preparations; it enters into the composition of colours for painters; it is necessary to the varnisher and gilder, and a great variety of other artizans. It was formerly obtained only from Arabia, whence it was imported into France by the way of Marseilles, and through France to England and all Europe. The Dutch, however, in their intercourse with the African Moors, discovered that they had forests in the desert of Sahara which produced gum in abundance. [...] Upon examination, the Dutch found that the African gum was of a purer and more mucilaginous quality than even that of Arabia. Hence it soon became a most desirable article of commerce [...].