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Bacterial or Microbial Cellulose what's it all about?

Before we explore deeper into the applications of Microbial Cellulose, allow me to trace back the first use of this prolific producer of Microbial Cellulose.

 Nata De Coco

Nata De Coco is a chewy, translucent, gel like edible substance produced through fermentation of the vinegar bacteria called Gluconacetobacter Xylinusformerly identified as Acetobacter Xylinum (a gram negative bacterium) that was commonly found in grape to wine fermentation process.

Undocumented claim surface that Nata De Coco was first discovered in Pina cloth producing factory in Laguna.  Workers noticed a thin layer of gelatinous film floating in the tank of pineapple juice waste; a raw material used as a bleaching agent for Pina cloth.

The rotting waste of pineapple juice yielded a thin layer of slimy gel floating and growing in thickness each day. This triggered an inquiry. Further study from sugared pineapple pulp mash was then conducted by certain Villanueva.

Earliest investigators to report on this product believed that it is chiefly Dextran (discovered by Louis Pasteur --- a microbial product of wine), and hinted that the likely causal agent is a bacterium belonging to genus Leuconostoc. 

The nata-forming organism was first referred to as Leuconostoc mesenteroides (Cienkowski) van T’eghem by Adriano et al. who described the product that  forms in the pineapple juice waste as a mucilaginous substance which consists of Dextran. This was believe to be the birth of Nata de Pina. No exact date was known but Philippines has been producing and exporting Nata De Coco after World War II (sometime in the late 40’s).

Apparently, following similar trend, Africa, who studied the production of Nata from coconut water included in her report a review of the history of Dextran-forming L. mesenteroides for the Nata organism, which is considered to be identical with the one under study. 

Another researcher, a certain Mendoza identified the Nata forming organism as Acetobacter aceti (Kutzing) Beijerinck and described it as a capsulated bacterium which “produces a gelatinous substance on the surface of a suitable substrate of proper acidity and sugar solution.” 

A total of four papers appeared in PJS dealing with Nata De Coco, a whitish cellulosic gel which is obtained by microbial fermentation of coconut water.

  • Brooke, Walter L., “The deodorization of coconut oil,” PJS, 30(2), 201-212, June 1926.
  • Lava, V.G., P.E. Torres, and S. Sanvictores, “Chemical studies on coconut products, III:
  • A new process for the extraction of coconut oil,” 74(3), 241-284, March 1941;
  • Lava, V.G., P.E. Torres, and S. Sanvictores, “Chemical studies on coconut products, IV: Further data on a new process for the extraction of coconut oil,” PJS, 75(2), 143-158, June 1941.237Volume 1(Coconut)the optimal conditions for producing nata.
Almost 20 years later, Gossele and Wings, two Belgian researchers published another paper in PJS which identified the nata-producing bacterium as Acetobacter hansenii. 

Additional information here was obtained from a 1967 published journal authored by Martina Lapuz, Emma Gallardo and Macario Palto --- Phil. Journal of ScienceVol. 96 No. 2 June 1967 (Pages 92-93) where they presented a study investigating the process of enhancing the production after the causative microbe was identified.

Their study led to the discovery of a different substrate yielding thicker and more structured gel. The newly discovered process and formula of medium where the organism thrives, study the behavior of the microorganism's growth in terms of temperature, level of acidity and additional solutions necessary for optimal yield of Nata gel. 

As a result, a window of opportunity opened to the Filipino public to monetize on the emerging technology in the coconut industry. Using the coconut water, coconut milk, sugar, right amount of acidity and the mother starter from the microbe Gluconacetobacter Xylinus --- giving birth to the discovery of Nata De Coco.

Nata De Coco was embraced by the public as an affordable desert. Gaining mass popularity because of it's taste the notoriety spread nationwide quickly.

In the early 90’s, Nata De Coco had a surprising boom in the export market when it created a surge of demand from Japan.  Armed with simplified method of production, the Phil. Gov't. through it's livelihood program administered via DOST (Department of Science and Technology) implemented the transfer of technological information and production training workshop among livelihood projects and small scale private enterprise to keep up with the demand. 

The recorded revenue in 1991 for export in Japan was around $ 170, 000.00.

The following year, a fad originated in Japan with the introduction of Nata De Coco into diet drinks enjoyed by young girls. The export revenue skyrocketed.


Meanwhile, another $ 2.1 million in revenue was also generated from Taiwan market. in that same year.

Nata earned the distinction as among the 30 best hit products among Japanese consumers for 1993. 

Since this time, the export of Nata from the Philippines has risen from approximately $1 million per year to more than $26 million annually as of 1993 (see Philippine Daily Inquirer "Agriculture" Vol. 20. March 3, 1994).

The Nata De Coco industry claims it's place in the GDP.

In fact, the cottage industry in the Philippines cannot meet the demand for export, so great interest has recently focused on ways and means to increase Nata production.

As the demand continued, backyard production proliferated and waste disposal became a concern. 

In the late 90's the export demand simmered down as other countries like Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia join bandwagon of production and export trade. 

Nata De Coco remained popular but with lesser demand from Japan and Taiwan. However, because of the increasing number of Filipinos working abroad, the market remains lucrative up to this writing.


This is how a raw Nata De Coco would look like in the tray before cutting into dice and bottled

Microbial Cellulose sits like a slab of gel in a large tray--- before harvest  

This is what you'll find when they stack the sheets of gel in the table...

 Another innovative product believed to have originated in Russia is Kombucha or Manchurian Tea many are convince that the live culture in the Tea are rich in pro-biotics...hmmm got me thinkin'

Using the Live Tea Culture (top image) the formula yields this image in the bottom after 30 days... 

With some creativity Fashion Designers from UK manage to create this non-woven eco-friendly material

 and this

Reference Link HERE
A little stretch of imagination  creates this...

and to complete the wardrobe

Reference Link HERE

A remarkable achievement with Microbial Cellulose... 


The image below is a dried sheet sold under the brand name Dermafill. A translucent, semi-opaque biosynthetic cellulose membrane dressing, which at a microscopic level, closely resembles the body's own collagen. The nonwoven ribbons of microbial cellulose closely resemble the body’s extracellular matrix yielding a high vapor transfer rate while providing a normal matrix covering the entire wound bed. The result is a fluid balance and mechanical cellular matrix which bridges the wound bed, thus promotes distribution and concentration of growth factors and nutrients needed for healing, while protecting the wound from environmental contamination. ReferenceHere


 Notice how thin the sheet in it's dehydrated state...

Bacterial cellulose (BC) dry film was developed and inoculated with antibacterial properties. 

Marketed as a functional wound dressing for acute trauma treatment and chronic ulcers. 

To achieve this, a freeze-dried BC film was immersed in a benzalkonium chloride solution, which belongs to cationic surfactant type antimicrobial agent, followed by another freeze-drying step. Some physical and antimicrobial properties of the prepared BC films were investigated and the results showed that the drug-loading capacity of the BC dry film was about 0.116 mg/cm2 when soaked in 0.102% benzalkonium chloride solution. 

High water absorbing capacity, an important quality for wound dressings was also achieved with a swelling ratio of 26.2 in deionized water and of 37.3 in saline solution. With respect to the antimicrobial effect, a stable and prolonged antimicrobial activity for at least 24 h was obtained especially against Staphylococcus aureus and Bacillus subtilis, which were generally Gram-positive bacteria that are commonly found on contaminated wounds.

Another US company develop another wound dressing material


Co-founded by Prof. Gonzalo Serafica pH. D, who did his early work in biosynthesized cellulose material while earning his master’s and Ph.D. at Rensselaer, Xylos Corp. in Langhorne, Pa., where he serves as vice president for research and development. The company produces XCell cellulose wound dressings—the only dressings of their kind that can add moisture to dry areas and absorb excess fluid from oozing areas, aiding the healing process for chronic wounds.

These dressings are hardly the last stop for Xylos. Indeed, Serafica and company are developing implantable products that can be used to replace human tissue. The company recently gained FDA clearance for its’ human-tissue product.

For European markets, their company achieved a CE Mark for both the XCell® Wound Dressings (Class IIb) and the XCell® Antimicrobial Wound Dressings. The antimicrobial product, determined to be a Class III medical device with a drug (PHMB) having ancillary effect, was cleared by both the United Kingdom Notified Body (BSI) and the British Medicines Group (MHRA). In 2006, they entered into a long-term distribution agreement with Lohmann & Rauscher, GmbH (“L&R”), a leading European wound care company, for marketing rights to our wound care products in Europe and certain other international markets. L&R marketed the products under its own brand names “Suprasorb X” and “Suprasorb X+PHMB.” 

Additional remarkable products from Microbial Cellulose we're introduce into the global market some have pending patents and in the stages of R and D.

The Nata De Coco desert, the Diet Drink and Wound Dressing. All prove to be beneficial to the public consumption.

Nata De Coco, Diet drink and Healthy Kombucha Tea provide solutions to the growing problems of Obesity.


  • Because it is rich in dietary fiber, matter of fact, the Nata De Coco when absorb is not-digestible. Meaning the fiber can act as a cleanser to the digestive tract. 

  • Low Calorie --- only 80 kilo-calorie per 100 grams serving

  • 1 kilo-calorie per gram if taken plain

Wound dressing - the ease of use is obvious not to mention the numerous successful studies made from reputable companies earning the approval of FDA in the USA and FDA equivalent in UK.

Audio Components

Sony Corporation, in conjunction with Ajinomoto developed the first audio speaker diaphragms using microbial cellulose (see US Patent 4,742,164). The first headphones were very expensive, over $3,000 for one pair! The price recently has dropped, and the microbial cellulose headphones are available worldwide as an upper end audio product. The unique dimensional stability of microbial cellulose gives rise to a sound transducing membrane which maintains high sonic velocity over a wide frequency ranges, thus being the best material to meet the rigid requirements for optimal sound transduction. On the horizon, it is expected that larger speaker diaphragms will be made of microbial cellulose.

Paper and Paper Products

Microbial cellulose has been investigated as a binder in papers, and because of it consists of extremely small clusters of cellulose microfibrils, this property greatly adds to strength and durability of pulp when integrated into paper. Ajinomoto Co. along with Mitsubishi Paper Mills in Japan are currently active in developing microbial cellulose for paper products (see patent JP 63295793).

Advantages over traditional plant cellulose is it's purity meaning the absence of lignin and hemicellulose that requires a lot or energy and chemicals, a extensive process to get rid off.

No bleaching required, and high tensile strength because of the structure. Would be a great material for specialty and archival papers or even as additive to recycled paper.

Hydrogel - Soft Tissue Replacement

A patent is currently being submitted for composite materials formed from a hydrogel and cellulose, and more particularly the present invention relates to new types of poly(vinyl alcohol)-bacterially produced cellulose composites suitable for soft tissue replacement and controlled release.



Artificial Blood Vessel -- almost similar to soft tissue replacement.


Helen Fink, a molecular biologist from the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, has been investigating the use of bacterial cellulose to create artifical blood vessels. She used Gluconacetobacter xylinus, (previously known as Acetobacter xylinum), the same cellulose-producing bacteria I use in BioCouture.

The cellulose is strong enough to cope with blood pressure and works well with the body's own tissue. Fink's thesis shows that the material also carries a lower risk of blood clots than the synthetic materials currently in use.

"There are hardly any blood clots at all with the bacterial cellulose, and the blood coagulates much more slowly than with the materials I used as a comparison," says  Fink. "This means that the cellulose works very well in contact with the blood and is a very interesting alternative for artificial blood vessels." 

Real blood vessels have an internal coating of cells that ensure that the blood does not clot. Helen Fink and her colleagues have modified the bacterial cellulose so that these cells adhere better.

"We've used a brand new method which allows us to increase the number of cells that grow in the bacterial cellulose without changing the material's structure," says Fink. Reference: Here