Research Team / Research Group Name (if any)
Research Group on the Safety and Quality of Food by Lactic Acid Bacteria, Bacteriocins and Probiotics (SEGABALBP)
Brief description of the Research Team / Research Group / Department
This is a consolidated and world recognized group from the UCM with over 30 years of research experience in food microbiology, food safety, antimicrobial peptides and probiotics. The group is part of the Department of Nutrition and Food Science, located at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine. Currently the group members includes recognized Professors, Associate Professors, postdoctoral and predoctoral researchers and Master and graduate students. The scientific production of the group includes more than 275 research papers in international journals (70% Q1), and near 48 PhD Thesis. During many years the group has profoundly contributed to the scientific and technical training of researchers currently working at different Universities, as professional experts in Public Health and in other professional activities in public and private Institutions and Companies.<br /><br />Research interest and expertise. 1). Genetic and biochemical characterization and heterologous production of bacteriocins and other antimicrobial peptides by lactic acid bacteria (LAB) and yeasts; 2). Characterization and in vitro and in vivo evaluation of LAB as probiotics for aquaculture and apiculture; 3). Development of bacterial and yeast based-cell factories for production of bioactive peptides; 4). Use of Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) and synthetic biology tools for the in vivo and in silico prediction of putative antimicrobial encoding genes and the in vitro production of novel antimicrobials.<br />
Research lines / projects proposed
There is a large interest by the food industry in reducing the addition of chemical preservatives and the intensity of sterilization treatments in food processing, resulting in foods which are more naturally preserved and richer in organoleptic and nutritional properties. The use as biopreservatives of antimicrobial peptides produced by bacteria, and known as bacteriocins, is seen quite positively by the food industry to satisfy the increasing consumer demand for safe, ready to eat, minimally processed food. There is also an increasing number of publications where bacteriocins have been successfully used as antimicrobial agents to fight against pathogenic microorganisms with impact in human and animal health, and the pharmaceutical companies are considering these peptides as a real alternative to the use of antibiotics in the fight against bacterial antibiotic resistant strains. Since 2008, only four new antibiotics have been introduced to the market while the number of newly described bacteriocins is exponentially increasing. It is believed that more than 99% of bacteria can produce at least one bacteriocin. However, only a small percentage of these bacteria can be culturable under standard laboratory conditions. Accordingly, we aim to develop novel, fast and more efficient screening methods for identification and characterization of novel bacteriocins by using next generation sequencing (NGS) techniques that may permit us to broaden the search of bacteriocins produced by both, culturable and non culturable bacteria, from environmental samples. We also aim using synthetic biology tools to explore different bacteriocin production methods and bioengineering techniques to develop bacteriocin variants with enhanced capabilities.