Enzyme that degrades chitin, a structural component in the cell walls of most fungi

Chitin (a polysaccharide) occurs in various invertebrates (e.g. insects, arachnaea), where it serves a structural function similar to that of cellulose in plants. It is also present in the cell walls of yeasts, fungi, and algae.

Various microorganisms produce the enzyme chitinase, which they use to degrade chitin. The transfer of chitinase genes to the genome of plants can enable them to kill pathogenic fungi by attacking the chitin of their cell walls. This approach - fungus resistance mediated by a chitinase gene - is currently being tested for grapes, with the goal of enhancing their resistance to fungal infections like blight and grey mould.

See also:
Fungal Resistance

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