Enzymatic Hydrolysis of Organic Phosphates Adsorbed on Mineral Surfaces

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Esters of phosphoric acid constitute a sizable fraction of the total phosphorus supply in the environment and thus play an important role in the global phosphorus cycle. Enzymatic hydrolysis of these esters to produce orthophosphate is often a required reaction preceding phosphorus uptake by plants and microorganisms. Generally, adsorption to environmental particles is assumed to limit this process. Here we show, however, that the rate of enzymatic hydrolysis of glucose-1-phosphate (G1P) adsorbed on goethite by acid phosphatase (AcPase) can be of the same order of magnitude as in aqueous solution. The surface process releases carbon to the solution whereas orthophosphate remains adsorbed on goethite. This hydrolysis reaction is strictly an interfacial process governed by the properties of the interface. A high surface concentration of substrate mediates the formation of a catalytically active layer of AcPase, and although adsorption likely reduces the catalytic efficiency of the enzyme, this reduction is almost balanced by the fact that enzyme and substrate are concentrated at the mineral surfaces. Our results suggest that mineral surfaces with appropriate surface properties can be very effective in concentrating substrates and enzymes thereby creating microchemical environments of high enzymatic activity. Hence, also strongly adsorbed molecules in soils and aquatic environments may be subjected to biodegradation by extracellular enzymes.


External organisations
  • Umeå University
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Earth and Related Environmental Sciences
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)285-291
JournalEnvironmental Science & Technology
Publication statusPublished - 2012
Publication categoryResearch
Externally publishedYes

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