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Protected starter cultures for the dairy industry

Protected starter cultures for the dairy industry

Objective

Milk and its fermentation derivatives, yogurt and cheese, are globally consumed at rates of >750 million tonnes annually, and are responsible for ~10% of the protein consumption worldwide. In the process of yogurt and cheese production, starter cultures of lactic acid bacteria (LAB) are added to milk, leading to fermentative production of the end product. Optimal growth of the lactic acid bacteria within the milk is critical for high-quality fermentation in the manufacturing of such dairy products.

During fermentation, growth of starter culture bacteria is frequently impaired by viruses (phages) that infect these bacteria. Phage infection of lactic acid bacteria fermentative cultures is the main cause for incomplete or delayed fermentation processes in the dairy industry, and it is estimated that 10% of dairy fermentation processes fail due to culture infection by phage. This puts an extensive financial burden on the yogurt and cheese industries, a market estimated at >$80B annually. There is therefore a strong need for tools that would protect lactic acid bacteria from phage infection during the fermentation process.

In our ERC-funded project we discovered novel defense systems that confer strong resistance against multiple types of phages. We showed that our systems do not impair normal growth of bacteria, and provide efficient phage-resistance features, conferring protection against a broad range of phages. Within the current PoC project we will harness our discoveries to develop non-GMO prototype lactic acid bacteria that are strongly protected against phage infection. This prototype is expected to demonstrate highly resilient, enhanced starter culture bacteria that will have superior durability and resistance over currently available starter culture bacteria used in the market.
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Host institution

WEIZMANN INSTITUTE OF SCIENCE

Address

Herzl Street 234
7610001 Rehovot

Israel

Activity type

Higher or Secondary Education Establishments

EU Contribution

€ 150 000

Beneficiaries (1)

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WEIZMANN INSTITUTE OF SCIENCE

Israel

EU Contribution

€ 150 000

Project information

Grant agreement ID: 811249

Status

Ongoing project

  • Start date

    1 July 2018

  • End date

    31 December 2019

Funded under:

H2020-EU.1.1.

  • Overall budget:

    € 150 000

  • EU contribution

    € 150 000

Hosted by:

WEIZMANN INSTITUTE OF SCIENCE

Israel