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Int J Food Microbiol. 2012 Feb 1;153(1-2):73-7. doi: 10.1016/j.ijfoodmicro.2011.10.018. Epub 2011 Nov 4.

Degradation of phytate by Pichia kudriavzevii TY13 and Hanseniaspora guilliermondii TY14 in Tanzanian togwa.

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Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering/Food Science Chalmers University of Technology, SE-412 96 Gothenburg, Sweden.


The fermented cereal-based gruel togwa is used as weaning food for children in Tanzania. Togwa is rich in minerals but these are often not available for uptake in the human intestine due to natural inhibitors, such as phytate (IP(6)). The yeasts Pichia kudriavzevii TY13, Hanseniaspora guilliermondii TY14 and TY20, isolated from Tanzanian togwa, and selected for high phytase activity in complex yeast medium YPD, were now studied regarding their ability to degrade IP(6) in maize-based model togwa. A modified constitutively high-phytase producing Saccharomyces cerevisiae BY80 and commercial Aspergillus ficuum phytase were included for comparison. In addition, a strain of Lactobacillus plantarum was included in the model-togwa set-up. All yeasts in the study grew and reached final cell density 1.5-2 log units higher than the start value. S. cerevisiae BY80 degraded 85% of the IP(6) in 48 h; the same degradation level as with A. ficuum phytase (89%). Of the togwa-isolated yeasts, P. kudriavzevii TY13 and H. guilliermondii TY14 showed strong phytate degradation in the model-togwa; 95% or more of the initial IP(6) was degraded after 48 h. This corresponds to a remaining level of 0.4 and 0.3μmol IP(6)/g dw. Co-inoculation with L. plantarum did not increase IP(6) degradation. Moreover, fermentation with P. kudriavzevii TY13 yielded a successive increase in inorganic phosphate (P(i)), from 0.7 to 5.4 mM, suggesting a phytase production in TY13 which is fairly insensitive to P(i) repression. The study shows that phytate in a model togwa is available for yeast phytase enzymes, and addresses the importance of strain selection for effectively degrading the phytate. Certain yeasts originating from togwa seem to have developed a natural high phytase production, and P. kudriavzevii TY13 and H. guilliermondii TY14 seem particularly well adapted to phytate degradation in togwa, and is our choice for further studies and strain improvement.

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