The biocide properties of chitosan-based materials have been known for many years. However, typical antimicrobial formulations of chitosan, mostly chitosonium salts, are known to be very water sensitive materials which may impair their use in many application fields such as food packaging or food coating applications. This first work reports on the development and characterization of the antimicrobial properties of novel fully renewable blends of chitosan with more water-resistant gliadin proteins isolated from wheat gluten. Chitosan release to the nutrient broth from a wide range of blends was studied making use of the ninhydrin method. The results indicated that both pure chitosan and its blends with gliadins presented significant antimicrobial activity, which increased with increasing the amount of chitosan in the composite formulation as expected. The gliadins-chitosan blends showed good transparency and film-forming properties and better water resistance than pure chitosan. The release tests revealed that dissolution of the biocide glucosamine groups, i.e. the chitosan water soluble fractions, also increased with the amount of chitosan present in the formulation. The release of these groups was for the first time directly correlated with the antimicrobial properties exhibited by the blends. Thus, incorporation of chitosan into an insoluble biopolymer matrix was revealed as a very feasible strategy to generate novel chitosan-based antimicrobial materials with potential advantages, for instance active food packaging applications. © 2007 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
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