The structure and gelling properties of alkali-modified agar from Gracilaria edulis were investigated. 1H and 13C NMR experiments revealed a basic repeating unit of alternating 3-linked 6- O-methyl-β-D-galactopyranose and 4-linked 3,6-anhydro-α-L-galactopyranose. Partial methylation at O-2 of the anhydrogalactose moiety was also revealed. Meanwhile, the O-4 of the methylated galactose residue was detected to exhibit partial sulfation by NMR and FT-IR spectroscopy. The gel strength and syneresis index of the extracted agar were considerably enhanced by the addition of sodium, potassium, and calcium ions. The ion-driven gelation and peculiar sulfate position conferred the agar's similarity to κ-carrageenan.
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