Among 600 yeast isolates screened for phytase production, five (Zygosaccharomyces bisporus NCIM 3265 and 3296, Williopsis saturnus NCIM 3298, Zygosaccharomyces priorionus NCIM 3299 and Schizosaccharomyces octosporus NCIM 3297) were selected as potential phytase producers. Phytase activity was found to be cell wall associated with temperature and pH optima of 50C and 4.0, respectively. Highest phytase production was attained in cane juice medium as compared with other media used. Addition of phytase to chickpea flour significantly enhanced mineral mobilization by approximately 20–28%, 26–37% and 24–42% for Zn2+, Fe2+ and Ca2+, respectively, and decreased phytic acid content by about 75–88%.
Chick pea is one of the most popular vegetarian foods in most developing countries. It is a rich source of protein and minerals like Ca2+, Mn2+, Fe2+, Cu2+ and Mg2+; but these metal ions are bound to phytic acid, which acts as an anti-nutrient. Treatment of chickpea flour with yeast phytase hydrolyzed the phytic acid and released the bound metal ions. The ability of yeast phytase to improve mineral mobilization and dephytinization of chickpea flour suggests its potential application in food processing and feed industry.