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In biology, chitin is one of the main components in the cell walls of fungi, the exoskeletons of insects and other arthropods, and in some other animals. It is a polysaccharide, made out of units of acetylglucosamine (more completely, N-acetyl-D-glucos-2-amine). These are linked together in β-1,4 fashion, the same as the glucose units that make up cellulose. So chitin may be thought of as cellulose, with one hydroxyl group on each monomer replaced by an acetylamino group. This allows for increased hydrogen bonding between adjacent polymers, giving the material increased strength. Chitin's strength and flexibility makes it the material used for surgical thread.

"Chitin" and "chiton" (a marine animal) both derive from the same Greek word meaning "tunic", referring to the hardness of the shell.

External links

  • Chitin Product Information from China GreatVista Chemicals
  • Horseshoe Crab Chitin Research

Last updated: 02-08-2005 11:19:51
Last updated: 03-15-2005 09:25:26