The utiquity and many roles of exopolymers (EPS) in aquatic systems
Keywords:EPS, exopolymers, mucus, unicellular organisms, multicellular organisms, fibrils, flocs, aggregates
Exopolymers (EPS) are produced by unicellular and multicellular organisms. They consist largely of polysaccharides that hydrate rapidly on contact with water and link to form gels. EPS have many uses: in attachment; in locomotion on substrata; as a protection against predators, pathogens and changes in physico-chemical conditions; as a means of overcoming the threat of desiccation; in preventing abrasion; and in feeding. When free of organisms, some EPS form loosely associated polymer gels that are important in the development of organic matter aggregates. These aggregates, together with mucus-bound faecal pellets, play an essential role in nutrient cycling, and in the metabolism of ecosystems.;
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