SRP-Onderzoekszwaartepunt: Understanding the complexity of spontaneous fermented food ecosystems

Project Details


The theme of the strategic research program (SRP) of the research group IMDO relates to the understanding of the complexity of fermented food ecosystems. Large-scale production of fermented foods and beverages is a major branch of the food industry, since such products are highly popular, mostly because of their outstanding gastronomic qualities, cultural connotations, artisan characteristics, natural appeal, and health properties. The research will offer a broad, challenging, and novel view on (artisan) fermented food products as well as on their processes of industrial, economical, and societal importance. Fermented foods and beverages are produced through spontaneous fermentation, backslopping, or by adding control-enhancing starter cultures. Implementation of rationally selected starter culture strains offers opportunities to obtain natural, safe, flavourful, and health- promoting fermented food products, especially since an increased understanding of omics technologies [e.a., (meta)genomics, (meta)transcriptomics, and (meta)metabolomics] opens new perspectives for ecosystem understanding and strain and process improvements. Rather than opting for genetically modified starter cultures or components that are shunned in the food industry and by the general public, a more promising approach consists of exploring the large natural species diversity of the microbial world of spontaneously fermented foods and beverages and adapting their process environment for optimal production. Moreover, (meta)genomic data can be used to unravel biochemical routes, to perform ecosystem reconstructions, and to elucidate molecular mechanisms that are indispensable for innovative, functional starter culture development. Insights into the origin of the microbial strains and how they can adapt their metabolic systems to variations in environmental and processing conditions will become increasingly available. The fermented food ecosystems that will be dealt with are cheese, fermented (less conventional) meats, sourdoughs, borş, exotic fruits, cocoa, lambic beer, vinegar, and kombucha..
Effective start/end date1/11/2231/10/27


  • Bio Sciences

Flemish discipline codes in use since 2023

  • Other biotechnology, bio-engineering and biosystem engineering not elsewhere classified


Explore the research topics touched on by this project. These labels are generated based on the underlying awards/grants. Together they form a unique fingerprint.