Hemicellulases digest various polymers of hemicellulose, a major component of plant cell walls. Recent years have witnessed significant advances in the isolation and characterization of the structure and function of bacterial and fungal hemicellulases, as well as the development in biotechnological applications, the food, paper, textile, drink and juice industries. The industrial application of hemicellulases has typically been restricted to the use of a single enzyme in digestive processes, but current research is directed to the construction of bifunctional enzymes. However, the structural complexity of plant cell walls necessitates the use of a battery of enzymes or lytic complexes that fully breakdown hemicellulose in a coordinated manner. Here we review the hemicellulolytic complexes in fungi and their potential in biotechnological applications.
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