12 Jul

Hydrolytic and Degradative Enzymes

Bacteria use a variety of degradative and hydrolytic enzymes to degrade large macromolecules into smaller units that can be imported into the cell. Because of the presence of the cell wall, bacteria lack the ability to surround and engulf their food by phagocytosis. Amylases and cellulases degrade starch and cellulose into simple sugars that are then transported into the cell where they are metabolized. Proteases such as casein and gelatin degrade proteins and peptides into amino acids. Lipases convert triglycerides into fatty acids and glycerol. Bacteria also hydrolyze small molecules because they can then acquire carbon compounds. Tryptophane is split into pyruvate and indole by the enzyme trytophanase. The pyruvate is then metabolized however the indole accumulates in the growth medium. The accumulation of indole is the basis for a test that differentiates bacteria that produce tryptophanase from those that do not. The presence or absence of various hydrolytic and and degradative enzymes can be used to identify bacteria.