Microbial enzymes: Industrial progress in 21st century

Microbial enzymes: Industrial progress in 21st century

Rajendra Singh,1 Manoj Kumar,1 Anshumali Mittal,2 and Praveen Kumar Mehta 3

Microbes have been utilized since ancient human civilization with first reported commercial application of yeast to produce alcoholic beverages from barley by the Babylonians and Sumerians as early as 6000 BC. The microbial enzymes have gained recognition globally for their widespread uses in various sectors of industries, e.g., food, agriculture, chemicals, medicine, and energy. Enzyme mediated processes are rapidly gaining interest because of reduced process time, intake of low energy input, cost effective, nontoxic and eco-friendly characteristics. Moreover, with the advent of recombinant DNA technology and protein engineering a microbe can be manipulated and cultured in large quantities to meet increased demand. Associated driving factors that motivate the use of microbial enzymes in industrial applications are increasing demand of consumer goods, need of cost reduction, natural resources depletion, and environmental safety. Global market for industrial enzymes was estimated about $4.2 billion in 2014 and expected to develop at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of approximately 7 % over the period from 2015 to 2020.

Enzymes are biological molecules, and act as catalyst to support almost all of the chemical reactions required to sustain life. Enzymes are highly specific; only accelerate the rate of particular reaction by lowering the activation energy without undergoing any permanent change in them, and therefore, are vital biomolecules that support life. They require typically milder condition of temperature and pressure for catalyzing reactions, and are used as an alternative to hazardous chemical pollutant owing to their biodegradable and nontoxic nature.

Enzymes are large macro molecules composed of polymers of amino acids connected by amide bonds, ranging from kilodalton  to megadalton  in molecular mass. Catalytic site of these macro molecules is often buried deep within hydrophobic pockets, which determines the specificity for their substrate.

Microorganisms are favored sources for industrial enzymes due to easy availability, and fast growth rate.

Production of microbial enzymes is a necessary event in the industrial sectors, due to the high and superior performances of enzymes from different microbes, which work well under a wide range of varied physical and chemical conditions.

Food industry

United Nation Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA) estimates that world population is predicted to grow from 6.9 billion to 9.1 billion and food demand is expected to increase by 70 % by 2050

Quality food supply issue can be addressed by the application of enzymes in the food industry. These biomolecules are efficiently involved in improving food production and components, such as flavor, aroma, color, texture, appearance and nutritive value. The profound understanding of the role of enzymes in the food manufacturing and ingredients industry have improved the basic processes to provide better markets with safer and higher quality products. Furthermore, the enzymes gained interest in new areas such as fat modification and sweetener technology. Currently, the food and beverage segment dominated the industrial enzyme market.

The application of enzymes in food industry is segmented into different sectors, such as baking, dairy, juice production and brewing.

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