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Home » Biology Homework Help » Biotechnology » Enzymes Vs Whole Cells
Enzymes Vs Whole Cells
Purified enzymes offer certain advantages over whole cells, which are as follows. (i) An enzyme catalyses only a specific reaction, and there is no risk of by-product formation or product breakdown as may be the case with whole cells. (ii) Whole cells convert a proportion of the substrate into biomass, which is not the case with enzymes. (iii) the optimum conditions for an enzyme may be different from those for the organism producing it; a purified enzyme permits the operations to be performed under the optimal conditions. (iv) Often purification of the product is much easier than when whole cells are used; this is because there is no interference from the molecules present in the complex medium used for production using whole cells, the by-products produced by the cells and the constituents of the cells (when the products accumulate within cells).

However, purified enzymes have limitations of (i) high cost and (ii) instability. In addition, (iii) an enzyme catalyzes only a single reaction, while most industrial products are produced after a series of biochemical reactions which can be performed only by whole cells. (iv) In some cases, the by-products produced by whole cells may add to the quality of the product, e.g. in case of wines various aldehydes, ketones, acids and tannins etc. enhance its qualities. Therefore, whole cells are preferred to enzymes in all biotechnological processes where the use of latter does not offer an economic advantage.

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