Bioprospecting of microbial enzymes active at low temperatures with industrial application

Dr. Gabriela Garmendia, Facultad de Química

The use of enzymes is necessary in the production of wines, ciders and fruit juices. For example, an enzyme called pectinase, which is capable of degrading a molecule called pectin, is used to decrease viscosity and eliminate turbidity of juices. These enzymes can be added along with others that collaborate in the process, degrading other large molecules that are present in the juice such as cellulase (cellulose degrading) or amylases (which degrade starch). All of these enzymes can be produced by microorganisms, for example yeasts. The action of enzymes, in the case of the production of wines, cider or juice, must occur at room temperature, so it is important to have enzymes whose optimal temperature, ie the temperature at which their action is greatest is around Of 15 or 20 ° C. This is achieved by producing each enzyme from microorganisms that grow at low temperatures, coming from cold areas, ie psychotrophic microorganisms. The use of enzymes from organisms adapted to the cold allows to save energy and decrease reaction times in processes that occur at room temperature, which has increased interest in them towards a biotechnological application.

At the present time there are for sale in our country, enzymes of national production, applicable to the obtaining of the mentioned drinks. The enzyme preparations used by the domestic industry for these processes are imported. Therefore, the search for this type of enzymes would be important for the development of enzymatic products of national production, adding a new heading to Uruguayan biotechnological industry.