Mango waste into biopolymer
Mango waste into biopolymer

The mango is a fruit rich in properties that has high concentrations of carbohydrates which makes it have a high caloric value. N or However, where this does not meet the minimum quality controls for marketing becomes a waste that can be transformed into bacterial cellulose, a biomaterial of extraordinary purity with potential applications in the field of health.

From mango to biopolymer

Mayra García Sánchez, Ph.D. student in biotechnological processes at the University of Guadalajara (UdeG), worked on the development of a culture of bacteria that feed on mango pulp. Once the microorganisms consume the fruit, they produce a cellulose layer that could become a polymer – chemical compound that is formed by the repeated union of molecules – useful for the health sector, because the material is biocompatible, non-toxic and economic.

The UdeG student explained that the idea of ​​using mango to produce bacterial cellulose came from observing the problem of this fruit and its waste , in addition, to analyze that the amount of sugar in the mango was ideal to feed the bacteria.

“The project consists of creating a culture medium for a bacterium from the waste of mango, which reduces the production cost of this biopolymer by about 65 percent: bacterial cellulose,” he explained.

Mayra García Sánchez. Credit: Conacyt
Mayra García Sánchez. Credit: Conacyt

In a statement from the National Council of Science and Technology (Conacyt), Garcia Sanchez said that cellulose has different uses, because being a material of high purity can be used in the health sector. In addition, it has high capacity for fluid retention and could be used for skin treatments.

“Its high permeability allows skin wounds to help regeneration or healing, or as a coating on diabetic foot ulcers, for example,” said Mayra Garcia.

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It was also mentioned that this biopolymer can be mixed with other compounds that are not related to liquids to create new materials that can absorb water.

Use and implementation

Once the amount of sugar is known, the bacteria are placed in a culture where the mango pulp is placed for a few weeks. After this period passes, bacterial cellulose is obtained in the form of a membrane; as the purpose is to give medical utility, the material is cleaned so that it does not contain residues and retains its purity.

NOW WE ARE GOING TO START A BIOCOMPATIBILITY TESTING PROCESS FOR THE BACTERIAL CELLULOSE MEMBRANE. WE WANT TO KNOW THE IN VIVO CONDITIONS IN WHICH IT ACTS, WE HAVE EVIDENCE THAT THE MEMBRANE MIXED WITH OTHER POLYMER MATRICES INCREASES CELL ACTIVITY IN IN VITRO TESTS.

For now the student is performing tests in the laboratory. His next step will be to develop protocols so that this biopolymer can be applied in humans with the help of 3D printing technology.

Mayra García finally commented that although similar materials already exist in the market, none is made based on a fruit like mango, nor is it available at low cost.

The project is called Additive manufacturing and biomedical application of bacterial cellulose obtained with alternative nutrients, which obtained support from Conacyt thanks to the Program of Incentives for Innovation (PEI) 2016.

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