Low-Phytotoxic Deep Eutectic Systems as Alternative Extraction Media for the Recovery of Chitin from Brown Crab Shells

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The versatility of chitin and its derivatives has allowed their utilization in a wide range of applications, from wastewater treatment to pharmaceutical or biomedical industries. However, even though the extraction method used industrially is extremely efficient, it involves the use of strong acids and bases and results in the disposal of large quantities of toxic effluents. Deep eutectic systems (DESs) have emerged as a promising new class of alternative solvents, including for chitin recovery. Yet, the assessment of their toxicity has often been neglected. Therefore, in this work, the phytotoxicity of choline chloride (ChCl)/organic acid-based DESs toward wheat seeds was evaluated by measuring different growth parameters and stress biomarkers. DESs were then explored for the efficient recovery of chitin contained in brown crab shell residues at varying conditions of temperature and processing time as well as with and without water addition. The obtained chitin was then characterized through different analytical techniques and compared to a standard as well as to chitin obtained by a conventional acid/alkaline hydrolysis. Results have shown that by applying a ChCl/lactic acid-based DES (which was the system that showed the least phytotoxic effects on wheat; EC50 ≥ 1.6 mg/mL) at 130 °C, it was possible to obtain pure chitin (up to 98%) with characteristics similar to those presented by commercial chitin or chitin recovered by conventional hydrolysis in a shorter time (more than 8-fold faster), thus suggesting that ChCl/organic acid-based DESs can truly represent a low-phytotoxic alternative extraction media for the recovery of chitin from the crab shell biomass.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)28729-28741
Number of pages13
JournalACS Omega
Issue number43
Publication statusPublished - 2 Nov 2021


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