Food fermentation processes: ecosystem analysis

Project Details


The research group of Industrial Microbiology and Food Biotechnology (IMDO) has been established in October 1994. IMDO's central research mission is 'Research and Development for a Healthy Diet' through the study of the whole of microbial factors that influence (fermented) food quality, in particular with respect to starter cultures (and adjunct- or co-cultures, bioprotective cultures, and other functional starter cultures) and gut health.

The three major research lines are:

- Food fermentation processes: ecosystem analysis (Prof. Dr ir. Luc De Vuyst)
- Functional starter cultures: predictive modelling (Prof. Dr. ir. Frédéric Leroy)
- Food fermentation processes: (meta)genomics and microarray analysis (Dr. Stefan Weckx).

The main research objectives of 'Food fermentation processes: ecosystem analysis' are:

- exploration of the species diversity (plating and incubation, denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis, metagenomics) and functional analysis (metabolite target analysis, transcriptome analysis) of traditional, artisan fermented foods (dairy products, meat products, sourdoughs, cocoa, vegetables, sour beers): food ecosystem biodiversity, taxonomy, new taxa, new molecules (metabolites);
- polyphasic analysis of the community dynamics (culture-dependent and culture-independent) and metabolite kinetics of microbial food ecosystems;
- selection of interesting starter cultures or bioprotective cultures, based on a physiological and technological characterization of new, natural food isolates;
- analysis of the interactions between functional starter cultures or bioprotective cultures and the food matrix, including elements from the background microbiota;
- linking the species diversity of fermented foods, the microbial fermentation process, and the quality of the food product (food qualitomics);
- relationship between milk quality and udder health concerning coagulase-negative staphylococci;
- antimicrobial potential of probiotic bifidobacteria and lactobacilli (molecular identification);
- mechanistic elucidation of the bifidogenic and butyrogenic effects of inulin-type fructans as prebiotic substrates: (non)selective degradation, butyrate production, gas formation;
- development and valorisation of new, functional starter cultures, bioprotective cultures, and efficacious pro- and prebiotics;
- development of industrial food fermentation processes incorporating superior artisan quality and health-promoting characteristics.
Effective start/end date1/01/1031/12/11

Flemish discipline codes

  • Biological sciences


  • Applied Biology