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Keywords:

  • chitinase;
  • chitin deacetylase;
  • chitosanase;
  • high-volume low-cost product;
  • high-cost low-volume product

Chitin, its deacetylated form, chitosan and chitinolytic enzymes viz. endo-chitinase, N-acetylglucosaminidase, chitosanase, chitin deacetylase (CDA) are gaining importance for their biotechnological applications. Presently, chitin degrading enzymes constitute high-cost low-volume products in human health care and associated research. Indeed chitinases and CDA-chitosanase complex possesss tremendous potential in agriculture to control plant pathogenic fungi and insects. The success in exploring chitinases especially for agriculture, i.e. as a high-volume low-cost product, depends on the availability of highly active preparations with a reasonable cost. Therefore, a reconsideration in terms of understanding the roles of chitinolytic enzymes in applications, e.g. host–pathogen interaction for biocontrol, different mechanisms of chitin degradation, and identification of new enzymes with varying specificities, may make them more useful in a variety of commercial processes in the near future. The possible issues and challenges encountered in the translation of proof of concept into a commercial product will be appraised in this review. © 2013 American Institute of Chemical Engineers Biotechnol. Prog., 29:833–846, 2013