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Example of one possible xylan structure. Ferulate is in the lower left corner

Xylan (CAS number: 9014-63-5) is a group of hemicelluloses that are found in plant cell walls and some algae. Xylans are polysaccharides made from units of xylose (a pentose sugar). Xylans are almost as ubiquitous as cellulose in plant cell walls and contain predominantly β-D-xylose units linked as in cellulose.

Typically the content of xylans in hardwoods are 10 - 35 % of the hemicelluloses and in softwoods they are 10 - 15 % of the hemicelluloses. The main xylan component in hardwoods is O-acetyl-4-O-methylglucuronoxylan and in softwoods the main xylan components are arabino-4-O-methylglucuronoxylans. In general softwood xylans differ from hardwood xylans by the lack of acetyl groups and the presence of arabinose units linked by α-(1,3)-glycosidic bonds to the xylan backbone.[1]

Some macrophytic green algae contain xylan (specifically homoxylan[2]) especially those within the Codium and Bryopsis genera[3] where it replaces cellulose in the cell wall matrix. Similarly, it replaces the inner fibrillar cell-wall layer of cellulose in some red algae.

Xylan is one of the foremost anti-nutritional factors in common use feedstuff raw materials.

Xylooligosaccharides produced from xylan are considered as "functional food" or dietary fibers [4] due their potential prebiotic properties [5]. Xylan can be converted in xylooligosaccharides by chemical hydrolysis using acids [6] or by enzymatic hydrolysis using endo-xylanases [7]. Some enzymes from yeast can exclusively converts xylan into only xylooligosaccharides-DP-3 to 7.[8]


  1. ^ Sixta, Herbert, ed. (2006). Handbook of pulp. 1. Weinheim, Germany: Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA. pp. 28–30. ISBN 978-3-527-30999-3. 
  2. ^ Ebringerová, Anna; Hromádková, Zdenka; Heinze, Thomas (2005-01-01). Heinze, Thomas, ed. Hemicellulose. Advances in Polymer Science. Springer Berlin Heidelberg. pp. 1–67. ISBN 9783540261124. 
  3. ^ "Xylan Glycoproducts for life sciences - Engineering and production". www.elicityl-oligotech.com. Retrieved 2016-04-20. 
  4. ^ Alonso JL, Dominguez H, Garrote G, Parajo JC, Vazques MJ (2003). "Xylooligosaccharides: properties and production technologies". Electron. J. Environ. Agric. Food Chem. 2 (1): 230–232. 
  5. ^ Broekaert, W.F.; Courtin, C.M.; Verbeke, C.; Van de Wiele, T.; Verstraete, W.; Delcour, J.A (2011). "Prebiotic and Other Health-Related Effects of Cereal-Derived Arabinoxylans, Arabinoxylan-Oligosaccharides, and Xylooligosaccharides". Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition. 51: 178–194. doi:10.1080/10408390903044768. 
  6. ^ Akpinar, O; Erdogan, K; Bostanci, S. "Production of xylooligosaccharides by controlled acid hydrolysis of lignocellulosic materials". Carbohydrate Research. 344 (5): 660–666. doi:10.1016/j.carres.2009.01.015. 
  7. ^ Linares-Pastén, J.A.; Aronsson, A.; Nordberg Karlsson, E. (2017). "Structural Considerations on the Use of Endo-Xylanases for the Production of prebiotic Xylooligosaccharides from Biomass". Current Protein & Peptide Science. 18: 1–20. doi:10.2174/1389203717666160923155209. ISSN 1875-5550. 
  8. ^ Adsul, MG; Bastawde, KG; Gokhale, GV (2009). "Biochemical characterization of two xylanases from yeast Pseudozyma hubeiensis producing only xylooligosaccharides". Bioresource Technology. 100 (24): 6488–6495. doi:10.1016/j.biortech.2009.07.064.