Application of Enzymes in Starch Processing
 19 May 2023

Starch is a carbohydrate present in many plants that is widely used in food and industry. Separation, Starch is a carbohydrate present in many plants that is widely used in food and industry. Separation, purification, and modification are all processes in the extraction and processing of starch that rely on different chemical and physical approaches. These approaches, however, frequently have downsides such as low yield, excessive energy usage, and pollution. As a result, there is growing interest in the use of enzymes in starch processing, which has various advantages such as increased efficiency, higher quality, and cheaper prices. This article will look at the various aspects of using Starch Processing Enzymes, from their types and functions to their benefits and drawbacks.

Types and Functions of Enzymes in Starch Processing

Enzymes are biological catalysts that speed up chemical reactions by decreasing activation energy and enhancing selectivity. Enzymes are important in starch processing because they break down complicated starch molecules into simpler ones that are easier to separate, purify, and change. In the starch processing process, there are various types of enzymes, each with a distinct function and optimal circumstances. Some of the most frequent enzymes employed in starch processing are as follows:


Amylases are a class of enzymes that hydrolyze starch into smaller molecules like glucose, maltose, and dextrins by cleaving glycosidic bonds between glucose units. Amylases are divided into two categories based on their mode of action and substrate specificity: alpha-amylases and beta-amylases. Alpha-amylases randomly break the internal glycosidic bonds, yielding shorter chains of glucose, maltose, and maltotriose, whereas beta-amylases hydrolyze the terminal glycosidic bonds, releasing maltose units from the starch molecule’s non-reducing end. Amylases are widely employed in a wide range of starch-based sectors, including food, beverage, textile, paper, and biofuel.


Glucoamylases, also known as amyloglucosidases, are enzymes that hydrolyze the alpha-1,4 and alpha-1,6 glycosidic linkages in starch, producing glucose as the major product. Glucoamylases are frequently employed in conjunction with alpha-amylases to convert starch into glucose syrups for use in a variety of applications such as sweeteners, fermentable substrates, and feedstock for bioethanol production. Glucoamylases are highly selective and efficient enzymes that hydrolyze starch with high conversion and yield.


Pullulanases are enzymes that cleave starch’s alpha-1,6 glycosidic linkages, releasing maltose units from branching sites. Pullulanases are frequently used to make maltose syrups, which have a greater sweetness index and lower hygroscopicity than glucose syrups. Pullulanases are also utilised in starch modification, such as the development of resistant starch, which has functional and nutritional advantages.


Cyclodextrinases are enzymes that convert starch into cyclic oligosaccharides known as cyclodextrins by cleaving the alpha-1,4 glycosidic linkages between glucose units. Cyclodextrins have a unique ring structure that can encapsulate numerous hydrophobic molecules, such as flavours, perfumes, and medicines, and improve their solubility, stability, and bioavailability. Cyclodextrins are widely employed in the food, cosmetic, pharmaceutical, and chemical sectors.

Advantages of Enzymes in Starch Processing

The application of enzymes in starch processing offers several advantages over traditional methods, including:

Higher Efficiency

When compared to chemical and physical approaches, enzymes can expedite starch hydrolysis by several orders of magnitude. This means that enzymes can produce larger yields, faster reaction rates, and consume less energy, resulting in significant cost savings and process intensification. Enzymes can also work at softer conditions, such as lower temperatures, pH, and pressure, which reduces the danger of thermal and chemical degradation of starch and its constituents.

Better Quality

Enzymes can hydrolyze certain glycosidic linkages in starch to produce a more controlled and predictable breakdown pattern. This can result in the creation of starch derivatives with customised qualities such as viscosity, gelation, stability, and digestibility that fit the needs of varied applications. Enzymatic starch processing can also prevent the creation of hazardous byproducts such as acrylamide, furan, and 3-MCPD.

Lower Environmental Impact

Enzymes, unlike many chemical reagents, are biodegradable and renewable catalysts that do not generate toxic or hazardous waste. Enzymatic starch processing can also reduce water consumption and wastewater generation by employing milder and more efficient procedures that require fewer washing and purification steps. Enzymatic starch processing can help minimise the process’s carbon footprint by utilising renewable energy sources such as biomass and biogas, as well as lowering the energy consumption and emissions associated with older processes.

See Also: What are the Advantages of Using Enzymes in Textile Desizing?

Challenges and Limitations of Enzymes in Starch Processing

Despite the numerous advantages of enzymatic starch processing, there are also some challenges and limitations that need to be addressed, such as:

Enzyme Stability and Compatibility

Temperature, pH, ionic strength, inhibitors, and proteases are among elements that can alter enzyme stability and function. Enzymes can also interact with other components of starch, such as proteins, lipids, and minerals, affecting their compatibility and efficiency. To obtain the desired performance and stability, it is critical to pick the appropriate type of enzyme and optimize its conditions and formulation.

Enzyme Cost and Availability

Enzymes are frequently more expensive than chemical reagents since they require specialized equipment and knowledge to produce and purify. Enzymes are also in short supply and might be affected by supply chain disruptions, quality concerns, and regulatory limits. As a result, it is critical to assess the cost-effectiveness and sustainability of enzymatic starch processing, as well as to investigate alternate sources and techniques of enzyme synthesis and recovery.


Enzymes are diverse and powerful instruments in the starch processing business, providing numerous benefits and opportunities for improving the yield, quality, and functionality of starch products, as well as lowering processing time, cost, and environmental effects. The use of enzymes in various forms of starch products necessitates a thorough understanding of starch chemistry, enzyme kinetics, and processing conditions, as well as the selection and optimisation of relevant enzymes and enzyme blends. With continued research and development of innovative enzymes and processing methodologies, as well as increased demand for sustainable and high-quality starch-based products in numerous industries, the future of enzyme technology in starch processing appears promising.

You can also read:: How Do Protease Enzyme Supplements Aid in The Body’s Immune Response?

FAQs about Application of Enzymes in Starch Processing

What are the benefits of using enzymes in starch processing?

Enzymes can improve the yield, quality, and functionality of starch products, reduce processing time and cost, and have fewer environmental impacts compared to chemical or physical methods.

What are the main types of enzymes used in starch processing?

The main types of enzymes used in starch processing are alpha-amylase, glucoamylase, pullulanase, and protease, which have different modes of action and specificities on the starch molecules.

How do enzymes work in starch processing?

Enzymes hydrolyze the alpha-1,4 and alpha-1,6 glycosidic bonds of the starch molecules, breaking down the long chains of glucose into shorter chains or individual glucose units, which can have different functionalities and applications.

What are some examples of starch products and their enzyme applications?

Some examples of starch products and their enzyme applications are corn starch, which can use alpha-amylase and glucoamylase to produce high-quality glucose syrup and maltodextrins, wheat starch, which can use alpha-amylase and protease to improve the texture and shelf-life of bakery products, potato starch, which can use alpha-amylase and protease to enhance the clarity and stability of sauces and gravies, and cassava starch, which can use alpha-amylase and glucoamylase to produce low-cost glucose syrup and maltodextrins.