Comprehensive reviews in food science and food safety vol:8 issue:2 pages:105-117
Pectin represents a very heterogeneous biopolymer whose functionality remains largely puzzling. The link between the pectin fine structure and functional properties with relevance to plant growth and development, as well as food processing, is continually being explored. This review describes the current knowledge of pectin structure-function relationships. Key mechanisms dictating pectin structure-function relationships are discussed, including the polymer biosynthesis, cross-linking mechanisms, enzymatic and nonenzymatic conversion reactions, solubility properties, and more. Insight into the polymer structure-function relationships is highlighted by examining traditional and advanced methodologies used in pectin research. The role of pectin in modulating the quality characteristics of plant-based foods is underlined while pin-pointing some of the main challenges and perspectives. An integrated approach using the pectin structure-function relationship in the precision engineering of mechanical properties of tissue-based systems is proposed.