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For centuries, polysaccharides have been among the materials of choice for meeting mankind's needs for food, fuel and materials (e.g., for paper, clothing and shelter), and they were the logical choice for a broad range of technical applications. For instance, polysaccharides have traditionally been added to foods and cosmetics to confer thickening, gelling and moisturizing properties (e.g., pectin in jellies, xanthan gum in ice cream and hyaluronic acid for personal care products). In addition, polysaccharides were obvious choices for applications in the life sciences where agar gels became the standard for the surface cultivation of microbes...

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