After initial commercial exploitation, phytase was primarily viewed as a tool to increase the availability/digestibility of phosphorus (P) from plant sources and thereby reduce uptake from higher-priced P sources. This is where the phytase releases the P bonds in the phytate molecule, increasing the availability/digestibility of this mineral to animals.
Therefore, increasing the rate of phytase incorporation is expected to release additional P from indigestible feed phytate and therefore allow greater substitution from more expensive P sources.
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When phytases act on phytate molecules, they also increase the solubility of phytate while reducing its anti-nutritive effect. Phytates are known anti-nutrients that increase mucus production and loss of amino acids, alter the pattern of sodium secretion in the gut, and affect mineral absorption.
Part of the anti-nutritional effect of phytase is related to its binding to minerals at pH levels above 4.0, reducing the availability of these minerals for absorption in the small intestine.
Increase whole protein
The relationship between phytate and protein also reduces protein digestibility. This results in increased levels of intact protein in the small intestine, which the animal responds to by increasing the production of hydrochloric acid (HCl) and pepsin.
The presence of phytate in the diet has been shown to increase the production of pancreatic juice and mucus, which can be reduced back to normal levels with the addition of phytase. Increased mucus production can be a direct effect of phytate (irritant effect) or an indirect effect in response to increased pepsin and HCl production.