What is the difference between chitin and cellulose?
Polymers can be synthetically and naturally be found. There are quite a good number of synthetic polymers than natural polymers. Both cellulose and chitin are natural polymers.
The core difference between chitin and cellulose is that chitin is a major constituent of arthropods exoskeleton and fungi cell wall whereas cellulose is the major constituents of the plant cell wall.
Comparison Table between Chitin and Cellulose
|It is a fibrous substance which is a major constituent of arthropods exoskeleton and cell wall of fungi
|It is an insoluble substance that is a component of the plant cell wall and vegetable fibers.
|The second carbon of glucose binds to an acetyl amine group
|The second carbon of glucose binds to a hydroxyl group
|Strength of the Polymer Matrix
|Hydrogen bonding capacity increases the strength and rigidity
|Have comparatively low strength
|Arthropods exoskeleton and cell wall of fungi
|Cell walls of plants and algae
|Relatively less in abundance
|Comparatively high in abundance
What Is Chitin?
Chitin is a fibrous substance that comprises of polysaccharides that form a major constituent of arthropods exoskeleton and the cell wall of fungi.
The structure of chitin is quite similar to that of the cellulose. It is responsible for providing strength and support to fungi.
Examples of organisms that contain chitin are insects, crustaceans, scales of fish, some mollusks, and beak of cephalopods.
Main Function of Chitin
- Contribute to strengthening and protection of the organism
- Act as a wound-healing agent
- Act as a thickener and stabilizer in foods
- Act as a flocculating agent for wastewater treatment
- Used in dyes, adhesives and strengthening agents of papers
What Is Cellulose?
Cellulose is an insoluble substance that is common in plant cell walls. The organic compound is abundant in nature and it comprises of D-glucose monomers.
The cellulose polymer occurs in linear form and the hydrogen bond tends to bind the microfibers together.
The insolubility of cellulose makes the human body to be unable to digest them. But they can easily be digested by herbivores.
There is a certain type of bacteria that produces cellulose for the formation of biofilms and cell aggregation.
Main Difference between Chitin and Cellulose in Point Form
- Chitin is a fibrous substance while cellulose is an insoluble substance
- Chitin is a major component of the exoskeleton of arthropods and fungi cell wall whereas cellulose is a major component of plant cell wall
- The monomer unit of chitin is N-acetyl-D-glucosamine while that of the cell wall is D-glucose.
- The chitin compound has nitrogen whereas cellulose lack nitrogen
- The acetyl amine group of chitin bind at the second carbon of glucose while hydroxyl group in cellulose binds with the second carbon of glucose
- The hydrogen bonding in chitin causes stronger strength whereas cellulose have comparatively lower strength
- Chitin occur in the cell wall of fungi and exoskeleton of arthropods while cellulose occurs in plant cell wall and algae
- Cellulose was developed earlier whereas chitin was developed later
- Cellulose is comparatively higher in abundance while chitin is less in abundance
- Chitin can easily be digested by humans whereas cellulose cannot be digested by humans but a suitable source of fibers.
Similarities between Chitin and Cellulose
- Both are polysaccharides that occur in the cell wall of the organism
- Both are biopolymers with glucose-based monomers
- Both have covalent linkages
- Both are insoluble in water
- Both offer structural support
- Both tend to form crystalline nanofibrils or whiskers
Frequently Asked Questions (Chitin Vs Cellulose)
- Do Humans Have Chitin?
Yes. They are mostly found in the lungs or gastrointestinal tract. The innate immune system is responsible for activating them.
- Why Is Chitin So Strong?
The presence of hydrogen bonding makes the polymer matrix of chitin stronger. Also, chitin is strong, flexible, and translucent tiny fibers.
- Is Cellulose A Carbohydrate?
Absolutely. Cellulose is a form of carbohydrate that consists of 1500 glucose rings chain together. The organic compound occurs in abundance.
- Is Cellulose Bad For Your Health?
Not really. But they are non-digestible components of the plant cell walls. The good news is that they are great sources of fibers in the human body.
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Cellulose is a structural component of plant cell walls and algae while chitin is a structural component of the fungi cell wall and exoskeleton of arthropods. Both of these organic compounds offer support.
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