Where does dextran come from?

Dextran is a complex branched glucan (polysaccharide) composed of glucose molecules. It is primarily synthesized by certain bacteria and yeasts. The production process involves the enzymatic conversion of sucrose into dextran by dextransucrase, an enzyme produced by these microorganisms.

The primary sources of dextran include:

Leuconostoc mesenteroides: This bacterium is one of the most common sources of dextran. It converts sucrose into dextran via the enzyme dextransucrase.

Streptococcus mutans: This bacterium, which is part of the oral microbiota, can also produce dextran from sucrose. It is one of the contributors to dental plaque formation.

Lactobacillus: Some species within this genus can produce dextran, although they are not the primary industrial source.

In commercial production, dextran is usually derived from Leuconostoc mesenteroides due to its efficiency in producing high molecular weight dextran, which can then be hydrolyzed to produce dextran of varying molecular weights suitable for different applications, such as medical use in intravenous solutions or as a food additive.