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 Applications of Pectinases


Over the years, pectinases have been used in several conventional industrial processes, such as textile, plant fiber processing, tea, coffee, oil extraction, treatment of industrial wastewater, containing pectinacious material, etc. They have also been reported to work on purification of viruses and in making of paper. They are yet to be commercialized.

Fruit juice extraction

The largest industrial application of pectinases is in fruit juice extraction and clarification. Pectins contribute to fruit juice viscosity and turbidity. A mixture of pectinases and amylases is used to clarify fruit juices. It decreases filtration time up to 50%. Treatment of fruit pulps with pectinases also showed an increase in fruit juice volume from banana, grapes and apples. Pectinases in combination with other enzymes, viz., cellulases, arabinases and xylanases, have been used to increase the pressing efficiency of the fruits for juice extraction. Vacuum infusion of pectinases has a commercial application to soften the peel of citrus fruits for removal. This technique may expand in future to replace hand cutting for the production of canned segments. Infusion of free stone peaches with pectinmethylesterase and calcium results in four times firmer fruits. This may be applied to pickle processing where excessive softening may occur during fermentation and storage.

Textile processing and bioscouring of cotton fibers

Pectinases have been used in conjunction with amylases, lipases, cellulases and hemicellulases to remove sizing agents from cotton in a safe and ecofriendly manner, replacing toxic caustic soda used for the purpose earlier. Bioscouring is a novel process for removal of noncellulosic impurities from the fiber with specific enzymes. Pectinases have been used for this purpose without any negative side effect on cellulose degradation.

Degumming of plant bast fibers

Bast fibers are the soft fibers formed in groups outside the xylem, phloem or pericycle, e.g. Ramie and sunn hemp. The fibers contain gum, which must be removed before its use for textile making. The chemical degumming treatment is polluting, toxic and non-biodegradable. Biotechnological degumming using pectinases in combination with xylanases presents an ecofriendly and economic alternative to the above problem.

Retting of plant fibers

Pectinases have been used in retting of flax to separate the fibers and eliminate pectins.

Waste water treatment

 Vegetable food processing industries release pectin, containing wastewaters as by-product. Pretreatment of these wastewaters with pectinolytic enzymes facilitates removal of pectinaceous material and renders it suitable for decomposition by activated sludge treatment.

Coffee and tea fermentation

Pectinase treatment accelerates tea fermentation and also destroys the foam forming property of instant tea powders by destroying pectins. They are also used in coffee fermentation to remove mucilaginous coat from coffee beans.

Paper and pulp industry

During papermaking, pectinase can depolymerise pectins and subsequently lower the cationic demand of pectin solutions and the filtrate from peroxide bleaching.

Animal feed

Pectinases are used in the enzyme cocktail, used for the production of animal feeds. This reduces the feed viscosity, which increases absorption of nutrients, liberates nutrients, either by hydrolysis of non-biodegradable fibers or by liberating nutrients blocked by these fibers, and reduces the
amount of faeces.

Purification of plant viruses

In cases where the virus particle is restricted to phloem, alkaline pectinases and cellulases can be used to liberate the virus from the tissues to give very pure preparations of the virus.
Oil extraction

Citrus oils such as lemon oil can be extracted with pectinases. They destroy the emulsifying properties of pectin, which interferes with the collection of oils from citrus peel extracts.

Improvement of chromaticity and stability of red wines

Pectinolytic enzymes added to macerated fruits before the addition of wine yeast in the process of producing red wine resulted in improved visual characteristics (colour and turbidity) as compared to the untreated wines. Enzymatically treated red wines presented chromatic characteristics, which are considered better than the control wines. These wines also showed greater stability as compared to the control.



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Last update: 05-July-2007