The effect of room temperature ionic liquids on the selective biocatalytic hydrolysis of chitin via sequential or simultaneous strategies†
An efficient conversion of chitin, the second most abundant renewable polymer on the Earth, into N-acetylglucosamine and N,N′-diacetylchitobiose, using room temperature ionic liquids (RTILs) and commercially available chitinases is described for the first time. The sequential strategy consists of the use of RTILs to pretreat chitin under mild conditions as a first step before enzymatic hydrolysis. [C2mim][OAc] (1-ethyl-3-methyl imidazolium) pretreatment provides an efficient production of N-acetylglucosamine (185.0 ± 4.0 mg per g chitin) or N,N′-diacetylchitobiose (667.60 ± 20.71 mg per g chitin) catalyzed by chitinase from Trichoderma viride or Streptomyces griseus, respectively. A thorough investigation of the structural changes of chitin induced by RTIL pretreatment suggested an increase in enzymes’ accessibility to the chitin substrate. Alternatively, a one-pot enzymatic hydrolysis of chitin in [C2mim][OAc]-aqueous medium constitutes a promising simultaneous route to selectively generate N-acetylglucosamine or N,N′-diacetylchitobiose by decreasing the required [C2mim][OAc] amount and the number of steps. Finally, the combination of the two chitinases from T. viride and S. griseus was shown to be very relevant to considerably increase the production of N-acetylglucosamine up to 760.0 ± 0.1 mg per g chitin.