Scientists in Pakistan and Canada have used a novel bacterial strain to produce thermostable alpha-amylase for use in starch processing, brewing and sugar production.
"The production process can be commercialized after further optimization for enhanced enzyme production," wrote the authors in the Journal of Food Engineering (Vol. 79, pp. 950-955).
In 2004, the European food enzymes market was worth €200 million. According to Frost & Sullivan, starch and sugar processing, bakery, and dairy enzymes constituted the largest share of the market: but the highest growth rates were witnessed in the nutrition and dietary supplements market.
From 2005 to 2011 the market is expected to trundle along at about 3.5 per cent, with revenues hitting about €240 million by 2011.
And amylases are said to contribute to 25 per cent of the enzyme.
"Each application of alpha-amylase requires unique properties with respect to specificity, stability, temperature and pH dependence," explained the authors of the new study. "Screening of microorganisms with higher alpha-amylase activities could therefore, facilitate the discovery of novel amylases suitable to new industrial applications."
The new research, by scientists at University of Agriculture, Faisalabad, Pakistan and the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada, reports that a newly isolated strain of Bacillus subtilis (JS-2004), cultured in waste potato starch medium was capable of producing alpha-amylase that was thermostable and found to be active across a broad pH range.
"Thermostable alpha-amylases have had extensive commercial applications in starch processing, brewing and sugar production," said the researchers.
They report that the optimum pH was 8.0, while activity at pH 5.5 and 10.0 were found to be 68 and 45 per cent, respectively, that at pH 8.0.
"The Bacillus subtilis strain JS-2004 strain produced high levels of thermostable alpha-amylase with characteristics suitable for application in starch processing and other food industries," concluded the researchers.
Further optimization of the process could see commercialization of the Bacillus subtilis JS-2004 strain, they suggested.
The food enzyme market is dominated by number one enzyme firm Novozymes, together with Danisco, DSM, AB Enzymes and Chr Hansen.
Opportunities for growth in this mature market lie in developments, driven by biotechnology, that provide food and beverage makers with the right tools to meet consumer trends, claims market analysts Frost & Sullivan.
More information about the alpha-amylase reported by the Pakistan-Canada collaboration can be found in the April 2007 issue of the Journal of Food Engineering (Vol. 79, pp. 950-955).