Industrial microbiology and biotechnology

Development of innovative industrial biotechnology processes (use of renewable sources of carbon, tolerance to the process conditions, new compounds/proteins from non conventional microbial species) or improvement of current processes (production of biofuels, pre- and post-treatment of lignocellulosic residues to produce biogas, products by recombinant DNA, etc.).

Exploration of yeast biodiversity and exploitation of the metabolic potential of yeast species not yet studied. Biocatalysis: development of regio- and stereo-selective transformations by the use of microbial cells and / or recombinant enzymes; biocatalysis in continuous by flow-chemistry reactors.

Probiotic microorganisms and intestinal microbiota

Isolation and biotechnological characterization of microbial strains of food and human intestinal origin for the preparation of a large collection of strains with probiotic properties suitable for a wide and varied use in functional foods or supplements. Study of surface properties, adhesion ability and immunomodulatory potential of probiotic microorganisms by means of in vitro (epithelial and immune cell lines) and in vivo (mouse) models. Study of the relationship between diet and intestinal microbiota governs in order to elucidate the balance between health status and the potential occurrence of a number of disease states such as obesity, atherosclerosis, intestinal inflammation and carcinogenesis.

Food microbiology and biotechnology

Study of the ecology, physiology and genetics of microorganisms involved in food systems, with particular emphasis for milk and dairy products, wine, baked goods, meat and fish products, RTE vegetables. Direct measurement and characterization of genomic / transcription of the metabolic activities attractive for food technologies. Selection of microbial strains with functional and technological properties. Mechanism of action of pure molecules and / or compounds of natural origin with antimicrobial activity and their inclusion into packaging materials (active packaging).

Microbial taxonomy

Investigation and genetic characterization of microbial isolates through a polyphasic approach matching the molecular data with taxonomic conventional assays. Study of interspecific and intraspecific polymorphisms in order to infer new taxa and to understand the dynamics of populations within food systems.

Bacteriophages and virome in food systems

Isolation and characterization of bacteriophages and study of the interaction between virus and bacterial host with innovative applications in food industry. Investigation on the virome in food systems and environment through a metagenomic approach. The viral populations play a fundamental role in all ecosystems, both in maintaining the balance between different microbial consortia, both as carrier of genetic exchange within the same community.

Microbial food safety

Investigation and characterization of specific genetic determinants encoding virulence factors, pathogenicity and food deterioration for the rapid and accurate diagnosis of the presence / numbers of spoilage or pathogenic bacteria in foods and environment. Application of predictive models useful to describe the kinetics of growth / survival of microorganisms in a food.