Alginate, carrageenan and agar are marine algal polysaccharides with several common features. They all contain linear substructures which enable them to form gels. All three types of polymers vary within and between samples in subunit composi- tion and arrangement, and in molecular weight. That the subunit organization in these complex al- gal polymers is neither completely regular nor com- pletely random is becoming increasingly clear (Lar- sen, 1981; Greer et al., 1984). The relationship between carbohydrate primary structure, polymer conformation and biochemical properties of ma- rine algal carbohydrates is gaining increasing attention as new experimental approaches are being de- veloped. Recent studies have involved combinations of chemical or enzymatic fragmentation; size, ionic or electrophoretic separations; and analysis of polymer properties or interactions by nuclear mag- netic resonance spectroscopy, infrared spectrosco- py, optical rotatory dispersion, circular dichroism, light scattering, calorimetry and other modern techniques (e.g., Dea et al., 1972; Larsen, 1981; Smidsrod & Grasdalen, 1984; Lahaye et al., 1985). In this way, progress has been made on understand- ing the production, structure and properties of al- ginate block types (Grant et al., 1973; Larsen, 1981). In addition, enzymatic cleavage has been used to examine K- and -carrageenan fragments from carrageenans of mixed composition (Greer et al., 1984).
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