Assessing phytase activity–methods, definitions and pitfalls.
Artikel i vetenskaplig tidskrift, 2015

Phytases are nutritionally important for increased bioavailability of dietary minerals and phosphate for monogastric animals including humans. Release of minerals and phosphate is accomplished by the enzymatic stepwise degradation of phytate (inositol hexaphosphate, IP6). Activity determinations of phytase is often based on analysis of total released phosphate (Pi), but phytase activity in its purest form represents released product per time from IP6 only. Microbial and plant preparations often also contain mixtures of phosphatases and organic phosphate compounds; hence some released phosphate in enzymatic assays may originate from non-phytase phosphatases degrading non-phytate molecules. Moreover, even purified enzyme extracts assessed via Pi release may result in errors, since commercial IP6 commonly contains contamination of lower inositol phosphates, and further, the products of phytase IP6 hydrolysis are also substrates for the phytase. These facts motivate a quantitative comparative study. We compared enzyme activity determination in phytase assay samples at four different time points, based on analyzing the substrate IP6 versus the product Pi using different selected methods. The calculated activities varied substantially. For example, at 15 min into enzymatic assay, variations from 152 mU/ml (by IP6 analysis on HPIC) to 275-586 mU/ml (by Pi analysis using several methods) was detected. Our work emphasizes the importance of defining the type of activity assessed, showing that phytase activity based on released Pi may yield false positive results and/or overestimations. We propose to differentiate between phytase activity, being the activity by which IP6 is degraded, and total inositol phosphatase activity, corresponding to total released phosphate during the enzymatic reaction.

inositol phosphate

inositol phosphatase activity


phytase activity

phosphate analysis


Linnea Qvirist

Chalmers, Biologi och bioteknik, Livsmedelsvetenskap

Nils-Gunnar Carlsson

Chalmers, Biologi och bioteknik

Thomas Andlid

Chalmers, Biologi och bioteknik, Livsmedelsvetenskap

Journal of Biological Methods (JBM)

2326-9901 (ISSN)

Vol. 2 1


Biologiska vetenskaper


Livsvetenskaper och teknik (2010-2018)



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