The in vitro synthesis of cellulose – A mini-review

Anna F. Lehrhofer, Takaaki Goto, Toshinari Kawada, Thomas Rosenau, Hubert Hettegger*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview Article or Literature Reviewpeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)
73 Downloads (Pure)


The implementation of cellulose as a green alternative to classical polymers sparks research on the synthesis of defined derivatives of this biopolymer for various high-tech applications. Apart from the scientific challenge, the in vitro synthesis of cellulose using a bottom-up approach provides specimens with absolutely accurate substituent patterns and degrees of polymerization, not accessible from native cellulose. Synthetic cellulose exhibiting a comparably high degree of polymerization (DP) was obtained starting from cellobiose by biocatalytic synthesis implementing cellulase. Cationic ring-opening polymerization has been established in the last two decades, representing an excellent means of precise modification with regards to regio- and stereoselective substitution. This method rendered isotopically enriched cellulose as well as enantiomers of native cellulose (“L-cellulose”, “D,L-cellulose”) accessible. In this review, techniques for in vitro cellulose synthesis are summarized and critically compared – with a special focus on more recent developments. This is complemented by a brief overview of alternative enzymatic approaches.

Original languageEnglish
Article number119222
Number of pages10
JournalCarbohydrate Polymers
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2022
MoE publication typeA2 Review article in a scientific journal


  • Anhydroglucose
  • Biopolymer
  • Cellulose
  • In vitro synthesis
  • Polysaccharide
  • Ring-opening polymerization


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