Reference Work Entry

The Prokaryotes

pp 777-796

Bacterial Enzymes

  • Wim J. Quax


In the living world, each chemical reaction is catalyzed by its own enzyme. Enzymes exhibit a high specificity, as they are able to discriminate between slightly different substrate molecules. Furthermore, they have the ability to operate at moderate temperature, pressure and pH, which makes them attractive catalysts for industrial and household conversion processes. The first reports on the industrial use of enzyme products go back to the beginning of the last century. It was the German scientist Röhm who introduced the use of bovine pancreas extracts for the removal of stains in dirty clothing (Röhm, 1915; Fig. 1). Around the same time, the Laboratoire Amylo in France experimented with the use of extract from Bacillus for conversion of starch into sugars (Fig. 2). As a result, the company Rapidase (Seclin, France), which is now part of the life science division of DSM, was formed. With the development of microbial fermentations in the second half of the last c ...

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