Microbial phytases and their industrial applications

Phytate is the primary storage form of both phosphate and inositol in plant seeds accounting for up to 80%. It forms complexes with dietary minerals, especially iron and zinc, and if ingested at high levels in a largely vegetarian diet it can cause mineral-related deficiencies in humans and livestock. Seed processing techniques such as germination, malting and fermentation, can reduce phytate content by increasing activity of naturally present phytases, but additional nutritional supplementation in seed rich vegetarian diets is usually necessary. Phytases catalyse the sequential release of phosphate from phytate, and are widespread in nature.

In recent years phytate has been of a major interest for different industries such as food processing, animal farming and medicine. It is widely understood that phytate has a negative impact on our diet which can lead to serious health issues, on phosphorus levels in the environment and marine life. Therefore, the enzymatic activity of phytate has played an essential role in resolving these issues. However recently there have been studies that suggest that there is a much more beneficial aspect to phytate compared to its negative aspects. It has been suggested that phytate plays a role in reducing the chances of getting cancer, reducing the spread of various forms of cancer, kidney stone formations, as well as reduction in diabetes mellitus incidents.

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