Phytases are enzymes involved in organic phosphorus cycling in nature and widely used as feed additives in animal diets. Thermal tolerance is a desired property of phytases. The objectives of this study were to screen and characterize bacterial phytases from Chilean hydrothermal environments. In this study, 60% (30 of 63) of screened thermophilic (60 °C) isolates showed phytase activity in crude protein extracts. The characterization of phytase from two selected isolates (9B and 15C) revealed that both isolates produce phytases with a pH optimum at 5.0. The temperature optimum for phytate dephosphorylation was determined to be 60 and 50 °C for the phytases from the isolates 9B and 15C, respectively. Interestingly, the phytase from the isolate 15C showed a residual activity of 46% after incubation at 90 °C for 20 min. The stepwise dephosphorylation of phytate by protein extracts of the isolates 9B and 15C was verified by HLPC analysis. Finally, the isolates 9B and 15C were identified by partial sequencing of the 16S rRNA gene as members of the genera Bacillus and Geobacillus, respectively.
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