noun[mass noun] Biochemistry
A form of amylase found in the saliva of humans and some other animals.
- It begins in the mouth where the enzyme ptyalin, present in saliva, begins to break down starch in food to sugars.
- The saliva of carnivora contains no ptyalin and cannot predigest starches; that of vegetarian animals contains ptyalin for the predigestion of starches.
Mid 19th century: from Greek ptualon 'spittle' + -in1.
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