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Mar. Drugs 2017, 15(2), 40;

Short-Chain Chitin Oligomers: Promoters of Plant Growth

Department of Systems and Natural Resources, MONTES (School of Forest Engineering and Natural Environment), Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, Ciudad Universitaria s/n, 28040 Madrid, Spain
Department for Wood Biology, Centre for Wood Science and Technology, Universität Hamburg, Leuschnerstr. 91d, D-2103 Hamburg, Germany
Departamento de Físico-Química, Instituto de Estudios Bifuncionales, Facultad de Farmacia, Universidad Complutense, Paseo Juan XXIII, 1, 28040 Madrid, Spain
Centro Nacional de Biotecnología, Calle Darwin, 3, 28049 Madrid, Spain
Department of Biological Sciences, P.O. Box 870344, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL 35487, USA
Plant Biology, Carnegie Institution of Science, 260 Panama St., Stanford, CA 94305, USA
Centro de Biotecnología y Genómica de Plantas, Instituto Nacional de Investigación y Tecnología Agraria y Alimentaria (INIA), Campus Montegancedo UPM, Universidad Politécnica de Madrid (UPM), 28223 Pozuelo de Alarcón (Madrid), Spain
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Hitoshi Sashiwa and David Harding
Received: 20 December 2016 / Revised: 16 January 2017 / Accepted: 6 February 2017 / Published: 15 February 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Marine Chitin and Chitosan II, 2017)
PDF [1910 KB, uploaded 15 February 2017]


Chitin is the second most abundant biopolymer in nature after cellulose, and it forms an integral part of insect exoskeletons, crustacean shells, krill and the cell walls of fungal spores, where it is present as a high-molecular-weight molecule. In this study, we showed that a chitin oligosaccharide of lower molecular weight (tetramer) induced genes in Arabidopsis that are principally related to vegetative growth, development and carbon and nitrogen metabolism. Based on plant responses to this chitin tetramer, a low-molecular-weight chitin mix (CHL) enriched to 92% with dimers (2mer), trimers (3mer) and tetramers (4mer) was produced for potential use in biotechnological processes. Compared with untreated plants, CHL-treated plants had increased in vitro fresh weight (10%), radicle length (25%) and total carbon and nitrogen content (6% and 8%, respectively). Our data show that low-molecular-weight forms of chitin might play a role in nature as bio-stimulators of plant growth, and they are also a known direct source of carbon and nitrogen for soil biomass. The biochemical properties of the CHL mix might make it useful as a non-contaminating bio-stimulant of plant growth and a soil restorer for greenhouses and fields. View Full-Text
Keywords: chitin oligosaccharides; bio-stimulator; fertilizer; soil biomass; biodiversity; soil health, soil biomass, bio-diversity chitin oligosaccharides; bio-stimulator; fertilizer; soil biomass; biodiversity; soil health, soil biomass, bio-diversity

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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

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Winkler, A.J.; Dominguez-Nuñez, J.A.; Aranaz, I.; Poza-Carrión, C.; Ramonell, K.; Somerville, S.; Berrocal-Lobo, M. Short-Chain Chitin Oligomers: Promoters of Plant Growth. Mar. Drugs 2017, 15, 40.

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