Dairy industry is one of the largest food manufacturing sectors of Europe. Stainless steel is extensively used throughout the milk processing chain and is subjected to fouling leading to biofilm formation. Biofilms in the dairy industry pose a serious threat to the quality and safety of food products. Most studies on bacterial biofilms of the food industry have focused on single or dual species biofilms, negating the role of multispecies bacterial interaction, which is now considered to be a fundamental approach in studying biofilm community structure, spatial organization and factors underlying the biofilm formation on surfaces. Results of a recent project
show that the food contact surfaces in the dairy industry in Belgium are contaminated with many different bacterial species, including several spoilers and spore-forming bacteria, which remain largely unaffected even after cleaning-in-place (CIP). Biofilm forming capacity of many of these species and their interaction, particularly the interaction between sporeformers and other non spore-forming bacteria such as Pseudomonas, Stenotrophomonas and Staphylococcus will be investigated. The objective is to model multispecies biofilms in different species combinations and monitor their behaviour and influence on each other from initial adherence to biofilm formation on a steel surface under conditions simulating real manufacturing operations. We plan to study the influence of simulated cleaning and disinfection techniques on the integrity of single and multispecies biofilms on stainless steel in a bioreactor based biofilm model. This project is multidisciplinary involving meta-transcriptomics, confocal laser scanning microscopy and a biosensor. This proposal includes a strong linkage opportunity between the host and two secondment partners. Successful completion of this project will lead to more fundamental understanding of the formation of biofilms in food industrial practice.
Fields of science
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