Enzymatic Catalytic Mechanism and Its Role in Feeds

Long ago, people used the characteristic of enzymes to catalyze biological reactions, such as brewing, bread making, and antibiotic synthesis. Enzymes have been widely used in industries such as textiles, leather, food, and beverages. Feed enzymes are used in the industrial application of enzymes, which has a history of more than 50 years. However, understanding of the mechanisms of enzyme action has only been achieved in the last 10 to 15 years. The most common area where enzymes are added to feed is in the feed of meat chickens. Other areas such as pig feed are also involved. The main enzymes used in feed industry are xylanase, β-glucanase, and phytase. Other enzymes are less commonly used.

Enzyme Catalytic Characteristics

Enzymes are a special type of protein molecule that can speed up or catalyze chemical reactions between biological cells. Without enzymes, most of the biochemical reactions in living organisms would be too slow to meet the needs of life activities. Enzymes are different from inorganic catalysts (such as platinum) in two aspects. There is a specific amino acid sequence in the enzyme molecule, and the enzyme molecule acts on specific substrates for specific reactions. In contrast, non-biological catalysts may catalyze many biological reactions.

From a biochemical perspective, enzymes are substances that are active for specific substrates. The main source of industrial enzymes (including feed enzymes) is through microbial fermentation and extraction processes. Although some enzymes are extracted from plant and animal tissues, fermentation is gradually replacing these processes because of its high production efficiency and low environmental impact.

The Role of Enzymes in Feed

The addition of enzymes to feed can increase the digestibility of nutrients in animal intestines. Barley has an energy value 15% lower than corn. After adding β-glucanase, the apparent digestible energy of barley field grain was increased to the level of corn and wheat. Adding enzymes can reduce the amount of commonly used feed materials, thereby promoting the utilization of agricultural and sideline products. Adding ftu phytase can reduce the use of inorganic phosphorus and increase the utilization of protein and other minerals. When combined with other enzymes, it can reduce the excretion of feces by 10% to 15%.

Oats and barley have high levels of arabinose and xylan. Oats and barley have high levels of β-glucan and arabinose, while plant protein feed contains high levels of α-galactosides and pectin. Soybeans and other legumes contain a large amount of polysaccharides that are not digested in the small intestine. In adult animals, these substances are fermented by microorganisms in the large intestine, but 50% of the energy produced cannot be utilized. In addition, fermenting these substances in growing pigs will result in dander loss.

Non-starch polysaccharide enzymes mainly degrade polysaccharides in plant protein feed and cereal feed. Some of these substances can cause an increase in the viscosity of intestinal contents, hinder the contact of digestible starch, fat and protein with endogenous digestive enzymes, and decrease the digestion rate of these substances. Polysaccharides cannot be digested in the small intestine, so they cannot provide energy to monogastric animals. Furthermore, adding a complex enzyme preparation mainly composed of β-glucanase to barley-based diets can make the tough cell wall collapse and release nutrients, thus making the nutrients inside the cell wall more effectively digested and utilized. The digestibility of starch, protein, and fat is also improved. Generally speaking, by adding feed enzymes to cereal raw materials similar to barley, ME can be increased by 6%-12%. Phytic acid is a form of phosphorus storage found in all cereal and plant protein feed, which cannot be utilized by monogastric animals. If phytic acid is discharged into the environment, microorganisms in the environment will use these phytic acids and release the phosphorus into the environment, becoming a source of pollution. Ftu phytase can act on phytic acid, reduce the addition of inorganic phosphorus in feed, and increase the utilization rate of protein, as well as decrease the excretion of nitrogen in the feces.

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