Phosphorus deficiency can lead to several health complications. Many a times we face this deficiency despite consuming phosphorus-rich food. This is because of the inability of the human body to absorb it. Now, scientists at the National Chemical Laboratory in Pune have identified a yeast strain that can improve the absorption of phosphorus and make other vital minerals bioavailable.
Phosphorus is one of the vital minerals for all living beings including plants. In plants, 50-80 percent of phosphorus is stored in grains as organic phosphorus. Nuts, seeds, beans and whole grains are rich in phosphorus while vegetables and fruits contain less amounts of it. Despite this, livestock and humans not only exhibit a deficiency of phosphorus, but also of other minerals as well. This is because humans and non-ruminant animals lack an enzyme called phytase that converts phytate into free phosphorus.
NCL researchers have identified the yeast strain called Saccharomyces cerevisiae (NCIM 3662) which can effectively dephytinize the phytate to free phosphorus and also possess the probiotic properties.
"Saccharomyces cerevisae is a well studied yeast and used as a probiotic since decades. The probiotic property and phytase producing ability of yeast can be exploited in dephytinization of food and animal feed", said Dr. Mahesh Dharne, who led the research team, while talking to India Science Wire.
The team has isolated the particular yeast strain from rhizosphere soil and screened its phytase activity. “The phytase production process was scaled-up upto 10-L fermenter scale. S. cerevisiae strain reported by us has high cell-bound phytase producer with the activity of 164 IU/DCG (International Units/ Dry Cell Gram) compared to other phytase-producing probiotic yeasts,” he added.
The probiotic property of the isolated yeast strain was demonstrated by its capability to withstand harsh gastrointestinal tract environment. A detailed study was performed on its capacity to tolerate artificial gastric acid conditions, hydrophobicity, autoaggregation and co-aggregation ability, bile salt hydrolase (BSH) activity and capability to survive in low oxygen conditions of gut. It has all necessary attributes of a probiotic. Its dephytinizing potential was tested on various plant based foods like ragi (finger millet) flour, soyaflour, chickpeaflour, and poultry animal feed.
"A combination of cell-bound dephytinizing phytase and nutrition ameliorating probiotic traits of this strain can have useful applications in food technology sector", said Dr. Dharne.
The research team included Kumar Raja Puppala, V Ravi Kumar, JayantKhire and Dr. Mahesh Dharne. This work has been published in the journal Probiotics and Antimicrobial Proteins and a patent application has been filed.