Discovering the impact of food microbes in sustainable food manufacturing
The Agri-food sector represents the entire food chain including production, processing and distribution of food. The development of sustainable agri-food systems is one of the key priorities of the European Green Deal towards the transition to sustainable food systems. In this context, the research groups from the Ionian University focus on the development of sustainable agri-food systems through the:
- implementation of biorefinery concepts
- valorization of agro-industrial by-products and food waste streams using enzymatic and microbial processes
- isolation and recovery of bioactive compounds
- use of biotechnological tools for the production of high-added value components that will be re-introduced in the food supply chain
- development of novel and functional food products
In the context of developing sustainable biorefinery concepts, research includes the valorization of food industry waste and by-products streams for the development of innovative and environmentally benign processes. The upper target lies on the production of high added value products, such as biosurfactants, edible films and structured oils (oleogels), as healthier fat alternatives and bacterial cellulose, but also crude enzymes and starter cultures, for dairy manufacturing. In an attempt to exploit and promote the indigenous biodiversity, studies include the isolation, characterization, evaluation and sustainable exploitation of high-added value mushrooms that demonstrate medicinal properties such as Ganoderma lucidum and Trametes versicolor.
In FOODBIOMES, one of the central research priorities involves the exploitation of the food microbiome as an underexplored pool of indigenous strains in order to promote the production of high-added value components via sustainable bioprocessing. In particular, teams from the Ionian University are working on the isolation of microbial strains (in particular lactobacilli) from traditional and artisanal dairy products and on the evaluation of potential probiotic properties. New isolates are also being studied for their ability to produce bioactive molecules of commercial and scientific interest. Such compounds are characterized and studied for specific biological properties and are encapsulated using cutting-edge technologies, aiming to identify potential end-uses with a specific focus on food applications. The ultimate target is to use a biotechnology approach for sustainable food manufacturing through biorefinery development that exploits renewable resources in a holistic way to conform with the principles of bioeconomy and enhance the competitiveness of traditional food products.
The Ionian University Team