The Objective Measurement Of Alpha Amylase

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The objective measurement of alpha amylase activity is used every day to ensure the quality of our staple foods. Alpha amylase is taken into account well before baking our foods and milling the grains. We will be reviewing what alpha amylase is, how it is measured and what effects it has in the industry all the way from the farm, to your fork. Alpha amylase is a protein enzyme present in grains that have starch. It is also present in humans, most commonly in saliva (Murray). The main purpose for alpha amylase is to break down, or hydrolase, polysaccharides, such as starch (Murray). When alpha amylase breaks down starch and glycogen, they cause a chemical reaction that creates the sugars maltose and glucose. Alpha amylose is also…show more content…
The breakdown of starches into sugars gives the plant a food source to help it grow. In the 1970’s, Australian wheat farmers were suffering because their wheat crop was being bought at a reduced rate due to high alpha amylase activity (Csiro). This was caused by LMA, or late maturity alpha amylase. LMA is a genetic defect that causes high alpha amylase activity before harvest (Csiro). This meant that the wheat could not be stored as long and had poor milling qualities. As a result, in 1980, Australians recognized late maturity alpha amylase as a genetic defect in their wheat, along with pre-harvest sprouting, or PHS (Csiro). Late maturity alpha amylase is caused only by genetics, where pre-harvest sprouting can be caused by growing conditions, such as heavy rainfall. Today in Australia, wheat breeders have to test through two cycles of wheat before they pick what wheat lines they will breed and release to the farmers (Csiro). Even though they screen their wheat for LMA and PHS, wheat can still be susceptible to high alpha amylase activity, which will then become the millers responsibility. In the flour mill, if incoming wheat has high alpha amylase activity the miller must blend the wheat with wheat that has low alpha amylase activity, in order to create a blend with the proper amount of amylase activity. If the incoming wheat has too high amylase activity, the wheat will be rejected and the farmer will receive an even more income reductions. Millers
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