Proteins Amino Acids

Amino acids are fundamental to the pharmaceutical, food processing, and animal feed industries. Besides being integral to the health of humans, they are used in industry for their nutritive value, physiological metabolites, and taste.

In the food and animal feed industries, several essential amino acids, such as lysine, methionine, tryptophan, and threonine, are used in addition to l-glutamate, which accounts for more than 50% of total amino acid production. In the pharmaceutical industry, essential and nonessential amino acids are used, depending on the nutritional values desired. The demand for amino acids is expected to grow throughout the world as people seek improved lifestyles through diet.

l-Glutamate is used mainly as umami seasoning throughout the world. It was first produced in 1909 using an extraction method from the hydrolyzate of soybean with hydrochloric acid. A significant drawback to this method is that a large amount of by-products is produced, and it is necessary to deliver the solid matter as organic fertilizer and the amino acid moiety in solution as an alternative soybean source. In 1956, the fermentation method of l-glutamic acid from glucose using bacteria was reported, changing not only the production method but also the use of the amino acids themselves. The successful production of L-glutamic acid by fermentation was followed by production of other amino acids, using the same concept of regulation of the metabolic pathway of bacteria.

Methionine and glycine are produced by the chemical synthetic method. Methionine is mainly used as a feed additive in the dl-form because the d- and l-forms both have similar, nutritional values. Optical resolution is not necessary for glycine because it is achiral.

As the fermentation technology developed for l-glutamic acid production has been applied to other amino acids, the costs have become more reasonable. This has resulted in an increase in the distribution of l-glutamate, feed additives and l-lysine, and increased demand for amino acids by the pharmaceutical industry has been met.

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