Biochemistry of phytate and phytases: applications in monogastric nutrition
Phytic acid is important for plant germination as the primary store of phosphorus but has become very important in animal nutrition due to the sheer volume of plant feedstuffs that are used in feeding non-ruminant animals. Phytases on the other hand enable the utilisation of the phosphorus that is bound in phytic acid. Animals do not produce phytase in any appreciable amount and hence the phytase primarily used in animal feed are of microbial origin. Biochemical studies have provided insights into the role of this vital compound, and have enabled development of a spectrum of enzymes that are capable of tolerating the heat treatment of some animal feed, escape the denaturing action of the gastric HCl and the digestive action of both gastric and intestinal proteases. In spite of the progress in understanding of phytic acid and phytase in monogastric animals, much still need to be learnt. A better understanding of the action of phytic acid in the digestive tract of animals is still needed and newer generation of phytases that allowed greater reduction in the use of inorganic phosphorus are continually being discovered and developed. The future of animal feeding will continue to require a better understanding of the biochemical principles underpinning nutrient utilisation by animals.
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