A catalytic decomposition of a chemical compound by reaction with water, such as the conversion of cellulosic materials into fermentable sugars by the addition of specific enzymes.
This process is used to convert starch and cellulose in plant stalks, leaves, wood fiber, and other biomass into glucose by the addition of enzymes, e.g. cellulase.
It is also used for the breakdown of proteins into amino acids by the addition of proteases.
See also: enzyme, hydrolysis.