Hydrolysis (/hˈdrɒlɪsɪs/; from Ancient Greek hydro- 'water', and lysis 'to unbind') is any chemical reaction in which a molecule of water breaks one or more chemical bonds. The term is used broadly for substitution, elimination, and solvation reactions in which water is the nucleophile.[1]

Generic hydrolysis reaction. (The 2-way yield symbol indicates an equilibrium in which hydrolysis and condensation are reversible.)

Biological hydrolysis is the cleavage of biomolecules where a water molecule is consumed to effect the separation of a larger molecule into component parts. When a carbohydrate is broken into its component sugar molecules by hydrolysis (e.g., sucrose being broken down into glucose and fructose), this is recognized as saccharification.[2]

Hydrolysis reactions can be the reverse of a condensation reaction in which two molecules join into a larger one and eject a water molecule. Thus hydrolysis adds water to break down, whereas condensation builds up by removing water.[3]

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