Phytase is by far the most used enzyme in the feed industry that enhances the nutritional value of animal feed and diminish phosphate burden on the environment.
The new phytases have gene sequences quite dissimilar to the currently known phytases.
Phytase is produced commercially by microbial fermentation using the fungus Aspergillus niger and other micro-organisms using a variety of different phytase genes.
In view of the commercial importance of this enzyme, industry is continuously looking for genes coding for phytases that allow them freedom to operate.
This is the case for the new fungal phytases discovered by TNO.
Building upon its extensive know-how in the area of fungal molecular genetics, TNO identified the new potential phytases by using fungal genome mining approach.
"The increasing availability of fungal genomes has given fungal biotechnology a new boost" states Peter Punt, project manager for the phytase project at TNO.
Using this approach several potential phytase genes belonging to new classes of phytases were discovered.
One class is distantly related to known fungal phytases and the other embraces fungal phytases showing the highest homology to bacterial phytases.
In collaboration with Dyadic NL, these new phytase gene candidates have been expressed in Chrysosporium lucknowense and shown to be functionally active.
A patent application regarding to these discoveries has been filed.