The advent of antibiotic free diets throughout the world has sparked renewed interest over the last 10 years in all additives which can influence the microbiome in a positive manner, and enzymes, particularly non-starch polysaccharide degrading enzymes (NSPases) are part of this list. Nevertheless, there have been relatively few new NSPase products to emerge onto the market in the last 30 years, probably as a result of the lack of advancement in understanding of how they work in vivo. The three basic mechanisms of action proposed in the 1990’s, viz; viscosity, cell wall and prebiotic, remain today with little development of any of them, until recently. In the last 5 years, there has been a considerable advance in the understanding of how NSPases generate oligosaccharides in situ in the animal and how these may act as signaling molecules to stimulate the microbiome to become more active in their attack on dietary fibre. This is a development of the prebiotic mechanism and seems to be able to explain much if not the majority of the response to NSPase enzymes in vivo. The development of new enzymes in this field, therefore, needs to consider and address the optimisation of the products of cell wall hydrolysis, rather than maximum depolymerisation as has been targeted to date (particularly with the cell wall mechanism). A greater understanding of exactly what is needed should lead to more rapid development of new enzymes which deliver more value, more consistently, than any of the products available today. Unravelling the true mechanism of action should focus discovery on what could thus create a new surge in discovery of a new range of NSPases for the industry. This chapter explains the background to this development and notes the ancillary properties of a feed enzyme which are pre-requisite for the product to succeed.
Presented at the International Fibre Summit 2019 (https://internationalfibre.com/). Reproduced with permission from the organizers.