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Source: University of Illinois news release

The 3rd International Phytate Summit, held in November and hosted by the University of Illinois, the University of Arkansas and AB Vista, brought together top scientists and nutritionists from 22 countries to discuss the benefits of precision animal nutrition - and in particular the destruction of the antinutrient phytate.

Hans Stein, professor of animal science at U of I, leads a research team which has been studying the interactions between phytate, phytase, and calcium. "Currently, discussion in the swine industry is focused on calcium digestibility and formulating diets based on digestible calcium," says Stein. "Research results indicate that phytase increases calcium digestibility, so this effect should be taken into consideration when it comes to diet formulation."

AB Vista senior research manager Carrie Walk says new understandings revealed at the meeting of the wide-ranging negative impacts of phytate on animal nutrition are likely to bring positive changes to dietary formulation.

"We know that phytate destruction in the intestinal tract has massive benefits on nutrient utilization and performance," says Walk. "Four or five years ago people were using phytase to release phosphorus. Now we understand more about phytate and its influence on nutrients as well as animal performance, and we can formulate diets based on more complete phytate destruction and provision of nutrients beyond phosphorus."

The summit saw a renewed commitment between academics and industry representatives to connect the science of enzymes and feed ingredients to real-world applications, says Mike Kidd from the University of Arkansas. One such area of research is amino acids, where under or over supply can significantly impact animal performance.

"Phytase appears to influence amino acid digestibility, so researching the underlying mechanisms is really important if we're going to take the next steps in understanding what's going on," says Kidd. "We look at data and think about phytate and phytase, but can we look at it and say phytate has changed the amino acid requirement of a chicken?"

Professor Merlin Lindemann of the University of Kentucky says, "New developments in the industry's understanding of nutrition could have a significant impact on feed formulation. When one realizes that the benefits of superdosing phytase to destroy the antinutrient phytate actually go beyond calcium and phosphorus release to amino acid release, trace mineral release and whole-body energetics improvement, then one wonders what other unanticipated benefits may there be."

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