Isolation, production and optimisation of beta-galactosidase by utilizing yeasts isolated from selected dairy products
β-galactosidase is an enzyme that converts lactose into glucose and galactose. It alleviates the issue associated with intolerance to lactose and pollution caused as a result of milk by-products (whey). This study aimed to isolate and select yeast strains that can produce β-galactosidase from fresh milk, yoghurt and locally made cheese. A total of 115 yeasts were isolated from the samples, 9 yeast isolates had the ability to produce β-galactosidase and three (3) were selected for further analysis. β-galactosidase producers were screened using Ortho-nitrophenyl-β-D-galactopyranoside (ONPG) assay. Kluyveromyces marxianus strain SLDY – 005 produced the highest β-galactosidase. It showed maximum enzyme activity (277U/mL) at temperature 30oC, pH 5.5, after an incubation period of 36 h. Glucose had a decrease in β-galactosidase production while yeast extract and urea were considered appropriate nitrogen sources for the best enzyme synthesis. Crude β-galactosidase produced by Kluyveromyces marxianus SLDY – 005 was purified. The partially purified enzyme after dialysis showed a specific activity of 165.12 U/mL and had a purification fold of 6.02 and yield of 45.91 %. The purified enzyme had an optimum temperature of 40oC and a pH 6.0. Kluyveromyces marxianus strain isolated from local cheese is a potential candidate for the production of βgalactosidase and it could be used for combating the problem of lactose intolerance.