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Research project (§ 26 & § 27)
Duration : 2022-10-01 - 2024-07-31

The food value chain is the backbone of society but far from aligned with the Paris climate target or the European Green Deal as about one third of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) are emanating from this area. About half of these emissions are due to meat production which appropriates about 80% of agricultural land for feed production, contributing to biodiversity loss and natural habitat destruction. The level of meat intake in Western societies decreases life expectancy and puts a heavy burden on health systems. Based on this assessment, the unsustainable footprint of meat production may be disrupted by policy makers that adapt agricultural and/or climate policies, consumers that shy away from meat products for climate, health or animal wellbeing reasons, new technologies that substitute meat products by offering the same sensual experience at lower cost and superior quality. This project explores the likely disruptive impact of regulators, incumbents, consumers, or startups (RISC) and elaborates diffusion curves for meat alternatives based on in depth analysis of these potential disruptors. The diffusion scenarios are then used to assess the impact of the most likely scenarios of the food value chain in terms of production, value added, employment and GHG emissions.
Research project (§ 26 & § 27)
Duration : 2022-01-01 - 2023-12-31

The aim of the project is to develop an innovative biofilm imitate test system, which will be used to validate and optimize cleaning and decontamination concepts in the industry. The novelty lies in the fact that a microbial-free biofilm imitate is coupled with an innovative test system to ensure a practically oriented cleaning verification. None of the currently available test methods assesses the cleaning efficiency against biofilms, although they are the most common cause of contamination in the food industry. The test system, which is being developed in the course of the biofilm imitate project, is, in comparison, specially designed for the detection of microbial accumulations or biofilms and is therefore practice-oriented and more efficient than traditional test methods. This approach of using engineered microorganism-free biofilms shows multiple advantages that can facilitate the understanding of biofilm behavior. The knowledge gained in the course of the development of the test method is essential for the future hygienic and safe food production. In the project, a native biofilm reference matrix will be developed, and a cleaning test system for the comparison of biofilm reference and biofilm imitate will be established. Subsequently, a formulation including the manufacturing process of a biofilm imitate matrix is developed. Innovative methods from the field of rheology and microscopy will be combined to characterize the biofilm imitate. The next project phase is iterative, where the developed biofilm imitate matrix, compared to its biofilm reference, is subjected to a previously defined cleaning process to check whether the same cleaning-relevant properties could be achieved. Finally, the method is validated in an industrial environment.
Research project (§ 26 & § 27)
Duration : 2022-01-01 - 2024-12-31

Bifidobacteria play an important role in the eco-physiology of the colonic microbiota. Human milk oligosaccharides (HMO) are prominent among the functional components of human milk. HMO selectively support the growth and activity of desired bacteria in the infant intestine, thus they have prebiotic or bifidogenic effects since bifidobacteria dominate in the gut of breast-fed infants. Infant-associated Bifidobacterium species are equipped with genetic and enzymatic sets dedicated to the utilization of HMO. It will be interesting and also challenging to exploit transglycosylation activities of the glycoside hydrolases (GHs) from infant gut-associated Bifidobacterium species involved in HMO degradation to synthesize HMO structures. The proposed project aims: (i) to investigate transglycosylation activities and the extent of glycosyl transfer of the selected glycoside hydrolases from an infant gut isolate (ii) to identify the function roles of the key residues in the active sites of these selected glycoside hydrolases; (iii) to synthesize the core, the precursor and the backbone structures of HMO using these glycoside hydrolases. The main innovative aspects are to exploit transglycosylation activities of the glycoside hydrolases from the infant gut isolate for the synthesis of HMO structures in vitro and to provide insights into the catalytic importance of the amino acids involved in transglycosylation in the active sites of these enzymes.

Supervised Theses and Dissertations