Diastases are a group of enzymes which break down starch into the sugar maltose. Diastase was the first enzyme discovered. It was got from malt solution in 1833 by Anselme Payen and Jean-François Persoz, chemists at a French sugar factory.
The name "diastase" comes from the Greek word διάστασις (diastasis). It means a parting or separation. The enzymes simply split the starch molecule. Today, diastase means any α-, β-, or γ-amylase that can break down carbohydrates.
The commonly used -ase suffix for naming enzymes was derived from the name diastase. The breakdown of starches follows a general diastase-catalysed reaction:
A–B + H2O → A–OH + B–H
- Gray G.M. (1975). "Carbohydrate digestion and absorption". New England Journal of Medicine. 292 (23): 1225–1230. doi:10.1056/NEJM197506052922308. PMID 1093023.
- Hill, Robert; Needham, Joseph (1970). The chemistry of life: eight lectures on the history of biochemistry. London: Cambridge University Press. p. 17.
- Payen A. et J.-F. Persoz 1833. Mémoire sur la diastase, les principaux produits de ses réactions et leurs applications aux arts industriels. Annales de chimie et de physique, 2nd series, 53: 73–92.
- Oliver, Garrett 2011. The Oxford companion to beer. Oxford: Oxford University Press, p. 49. ISBN 0199912106. "Most of the activity of diastase can be attributed to the activities of two enzymes, alpha and beta amylase, and, to a lesser extent, gamma amylase (together, the amylases), although many other enzymes are also present".
- The naming of enzymes using the suffix "-ase" has been traced to French scientist Émile Duclaux (1840-1904), who intended to honor the discoverers of diastase by introducing the term in his book Traité de Microbiologie, vol 2. Paris: Masson, 1899, Chapter 1, especially page 9.