François Muller, Sabine Manet, Bruno Jean, Gérard Chambat, François Boué, Laurent Heux, and Fabrice Cousin
We explored the behavior and the characteristics of xyloglucan polysaccharide chains extracted from tamarind seeds in aqueous media. The initial solubilization is achieved by using a 0.01 M NaOH solution. The absence of compact aggregates in the solution and the average molecular mass of the individual chains were unambiguously demonstrated by size exclusion chromatography with multi-angle light scattering detection. The composition and the stability of the solution were quantitatively checked over weeks by using liquid state nuclear magnetic resonance with DMSO as internal standard. The conformational characteristics of the chains were measured using nondestructive small-angle neutron scattering (SANS). The unambiguous determination of the Flory exponent (ν = 0.588) by SANS enabled us to directly prove that xyloglucan chains in water behave like semiflexible worm-like chains with excluded volume statistics (good solvent), contrary to most of the neutral water-soluble polymer chains that rather exhibit Gaussian statistics (θ-solvent). In addition to the Flory exponent, the persistence length lp and the cross section of the chains were also determined by SANS with utmost precision, with values of 80 and of 7 Å, respectively, which provides a complete description of the conformational characteristics of XG chains at all relevant length scales.