The effect of germination on the level of phytase activity and the contents of phytates and phosphorus of five Nigeria grown cereal grains was studied. The cereals screened were rice (Oryza sativa), maize (Zea mays), millet (Panicum miliaceum), sorghum (Sorghum bicolor) and wheat (Triticum aestivum). Phytase activity was high (0.21-0.67 U g(-1)) in all samples. Phytate content ranged between 5.6 and 6.2 mg g(-1) while total phosphorus content ranged between 3.3 and 4.3 mg g(-1). During germination, the level of phytase activity increased and reached its maximal value after seven (16-fold), six (5-fold), five (7-fold), seven (3-fold) and eight (6-fold) days of germination for rice, maize, millet, sorghum and wheat respectively. After this initial increase, phytase activity declined slightly (P < 0.05). The increase in phytase activity during germination was accompanied by a significant reduction in phytate (P < 0.05) and a small but significant increase in total phosphorus.
Keywords: Cereal grains; Germination; Phosphorus; Phytase activity; Phytate.