Ex­treme en­zymes

How It Works - - ENVIRONMENT -

En­zymes are pro­tein mol­e­cules that act as cat­a­lysts for chem­i­cal re­ac­tions in the body, and they’re vi­tal for keep­ing pro­cesses run­ning smoothly. Most en­zymes lose their struc­ture and stop func­tion­ing – a process known as de­na­tur­ing – when they reach the lim­its of their op­ti­mal ranges of tem­per­a­ture, salin­ity and ph. Ex­tremophiles, how­ever, have spe­cialised en­zymes, known as ex­tremozymes, which are as well adapted to ex­treme en­vi­ron­ments as they are. For ex­am­ple, ther­mophile en­zymes are com­pact, with a tightly wound struc­ture to en­sure they hold their shape un­der the ef­fects of high tem­per­a­ture. Ex­tremozymes have been har­nessed for use in in­dus­trial pro­cesses. While most en­zymes can’t cope with the harsh con­di­tions, those de­rived from ex­tremophiles work well and catal­yse re­ac­tions to make the pro­cesses more ef­fi­cient. Used in the man­u­fac­ture of prod­ucts from food to fuel, the global mar­ket for in­dus­trial en­zymes has rapidly grown to bil­lions of dol­lars.

In­dus­trial en­zymes have be­come big busi­ness

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