An enzyme is a complex protein produced by the cells of a plant or animal. In their natural setting, enzymes are catalysts for biochemical reactions of importance to the body producing the enzymes. Plant enzymes have a number of commercial uses in the modern world. Common commercial uses of enzymes often involve the genetic manipulation of plants or the enzymes themselves. Scientists undertake this manipulation to achieve the maximum benefit from the enzymes.
Plant enzymes assist the human digestive process. As such, a number of digestive aids and vitamins have plant enzyme ingredients. As web resource Enzyme Stuff explains, plant enzymes have a wide pH range.
The human digestive system has a similar range; the stomach is very acidic, the small intestine is alkaline. Animal enzymes, which have a limited pH range, are unable to survive the acidity of the stomach. Plant enzymes can survive the stomach, where they help predigest food and continue to be effective as a digestive tool once in the intestines.
According to an article published by Daily Tech in September of 2010, a team of scientists from the Cambridge University, England, discovered a way to use plant enzymes to increase biofuel production. The article explains that bio ethanol, or biofuel, production is not always effective because certain plant enzymes make the sugars used for fuel difficult to extract. The Cambridge scientists reportedly discovered the genes for these enzymes.
This discovery will allow plants to be bred specifically for the production of bio ethanol. To do this, certain enzyme genes will be inhibited, while others promoted. This genetic manipulation of plant enzymes will be used to produce biofuel.
Plant enzymes are used in a number of industrial chemicals. According to Wageningen University and Research, plant enzymes are used in neutraceutical, pharmaceutical, and agrochemical products. Plant enzymes are also used for creating artificial flavours for food. The article "Phytomining of plant enzymes for biotechnological use of fats and oils," originally published in the European Journal of Lipid Science and Technology in January of 2010, asserts that plant enzymes can be used to increase both the speed and energy efficiency and sustainability of the industrial chemical industry.
- Merriam Webster's Dictionary: Enzyme
- Enzyme Stuff: Digestion and Enzymes
- Daily Tech: Inedible Plant Enzymes Discovered, May Lead to Biofuel Production
- European Journal of Lipid Science and Technology: Phytomining of plant enzymes for biotechnological use of fats and oils
- Wageningen University and Research: Plant Research International