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Adobe Stock Vanilla 06

Using enzymes to unlock the value hidden within plants

Enzyme-assisted extraction enables the effective break down of carbohydrates and starches within plant cell walls to release valuable colour, flavour and aroma compounds.

Published 05 June 2023
Home/ Media & Resources/ Using enzymes to unlock the value hidden within plants

Plant materials are unique in their compositions. Hidden in the complex structures of natural products are valuable biologically active compounds, such as flavonoids, phenolic acids or alkaloids to name a few. Biologically active compounds such as these, play a key role in the food, cosmetic and pharmaceutical industries.

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Carbohydrates are essential in forming strong cellular structures. Cellulose is one of the fundamental carbohydrates in the cell walls of plant material. Many of these valuable biologically active compounds are bound within these cellular structures, making it difficult to access and use them in food ingredient production. Hydrolysis of plant cell walls breaks down the cellulose and pectins that bind the bioactive compounds to the cells, releasing them from their bound-state to increase extraction yields.

Degradation of plant cell walls can be achieved either mechanically, chemically or enzymatically. Each method has its own advantages and drawbacks. In some instances, the cost and speed efficiencies of mechanical or chemical degradation can be outweighed by the reduced control of the process resulting in a higher release of other components such as nucleic acids or proteins from the cell walls which can be detrimental to the extracted compound of interest. Enzyme-assisted extraction enables the utilisation of precise enzyme activities to effectively break down the combinations of carbohydrates and starches within the plant cell walls freeing these valuable compounds for extraction.

Plant cell walls are made up of many different polymers with complex polysaccharide combinations. Their exact structure will be unique to each plant. To maximise efficiency of the extraction process, different combinations of enzymatic activities are required during the hydrolysis stage to increase the effectiveness of releasing the biologically active compounds from the plant cell walls.

Biocatalysts have decades of experience in providing enzymes for the degradation of different carbohydrate complexes to assist in the extraction of compounds from plant cell walls.

Explore Biocatalyst's range of enzymes for the hydrolysis of different carbohydrate substrates:

If you require a bespoke enzyme for your unique process, Biocatalysts Ltd can develop or scale up novel enzymes as part of our Enzyme Development and Manufacture service.

Read our latest case study outlining the successful partnership with a company working in the field of sugar reduction to scale up a novel enzyme technology:

If you would like to understand more about enzyme-assisted extraction, read how Biocatalysts Ltd's enzymes can be used to maximise the extraction of vanilla:

If you would like to request a sample of any of our enzymes or to speak to one of our experts please contact us below:

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