Immobilized enzymes are increasingly used in enzymatic microreactors, to encourage applications in different fields: food industry, medical diagnostics, organic synthesis, drug discovery, biosensors. As a matter of facts, microfluidic systems offer many advantages over conventional packed-bed bioreactors, such as higher efficiency, feasibility of multi-enzyme systems, higher mechanical stability, reduced amounts of reagents required [Pirozzi et al., 2016].
In this study ß-1,4-xylan obtained from hemicelluloses was used to obtain xylo-oligosaccharides (XOS), the only nutraceutical that can be produced from lignocellulosic biomass. XOS are considered non-digestible food ingredients, and their prebiotic effect of XOS on Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus species has been recently demonstrated [Aachary et al., 2011; Broekaert et al., 2011; Nacos et al., 2006; Samanta et al, 2015; Vazquez]et al., 2000]. In addition XOS are stable at wide range of pH (2.5–8.0) and temperature (100 °C), they can stimulate the selective growth of the gut microflora, reduce the blood glucose and cholesterol, reduce the pro-carcinogenic enzymes in gastrointestinal tract, and enhance the mineral absorption from large intestine [Aachary et al., 2011; Broekaert et al., 2011; Nacos et al., 2006; Samanta et al, 2015; Vazquez]et al., 2000].
In this view, sol-gel methods were used for the physical entrapment of xylanase from T. lanuginosus. Due to the mild conditions usually adopted for the gel synthesis, enzymes could be added to the initial mixture of precursors and so entrapped within monolithic porous layers in capillary tubes [Pirozzi et al., 2016].
A suitable combination of sol-gel precursors was found for the simultaneous improvement of the monolith adhesion to the tubing internal surfaces and of the catalytic properties of the entrapped enzymes. Specific attention was devoted to the determination of operating conditions suitable to enhance enzyme stability as well as selectivity in terms of XOS produced.