Micro4Food is a microbial and food proteomics platform that enables innovation, sustainability and authentication of processes and products by using a biotechnological “supply chain” approach able to take full advantage of application opportunities. Work is undertaken in the laboratory to drive the biotechnological process in foodstuffs, to innovate process, to enhance its sustainability as well to exploit its waste and/or by-products, and to improve the nutritional and functional properties of the products. This is covered in two main research areas: i) food fermentations with the aim of developing new products with enhanced nutritional properties; and ii) axis diet-man, in particular food intake/food conversion and the microbiome at the intestinal level.
The Micro4Food laboratory offers six interconnected laboratories that complement each other with their available equipment. The advanced “Omics” laboratories (Phenomics, Proteomics and Metabolomics) occupy an area of approximately 450 m², which are equipped with instruments for chromatography and mass spectrometry, microbiology and biotechnology as well as food biotechnology. Also available are pilot and semi-industrial facilities for the production of fermented foods (baked goods, cheeses) and microbial biomass in an area measuring approx. 150 m².
We study the foods and beverages to improve, innovate and guarantee their sensory, shelf life, functional and nutritional attributes. We develop and use multidisciplinary approaches, based on food processing, biotechnology, microbiology and omics technologies, that represent the most suitable tools for getting powerful solutions to guarantee high quality standards of foods and beverages, thus reflecting the competitive international science and the expectations of industries and consumers.
The covered topics are:
The research on “diet – human axis” aims at shaping and assembly the human gut microbiome in response to dietary habits and specifically tailored fermented functional foods. The research on “food fermentations” aims at shaping and assembly the food microbiomes for innovative fermentation processing focused on the functional, nutritional and preservation of food matrices.
Safety cabinet, autoclaves, freezers, refrigerators, stoves, centrifuges, CO2 and non-CO2 incubators, agitators, thermostatically controlled baths, spectral photometers, microscopes, magnetic stirrers.
Safety cabinet, PCR, Real-time PCR, MultiNA Microchip Electrophoresis System, UviTEC Gel Documentation Automatized system for isolation and purification of nucleic acids and proteins (Kingfisher), electrophoresis apparatus (nucleic acids), NanoDrop, refrigerated centrifuges, and fastprep a a high-speed benchtop homogenizer.
Ultra high pressure liquid chromatography (UHPLC) coupled with mass spectrometer, ÄKTA ™ Purification System for purification of proteins, peptides and nucleic acids, LC-MS/MS TSQ Quantum Access Max triple quadrupole mass spectrometer, Biochrom 30+ Series of amino acid analyzers, OmniLog® Phenotype Microarray (Biolog), Orbitrap Model Q-Exactive high resolution spectrometer coupled with U3000 Nano RSLCnano System for EASY-Spray, gel-based proteomics platform (one- and two-dimensional electrophoresis systems) combined with Image Lab densitometer software, extractor and digestor of dietary fibres, Oxitest instrument.
Optical, fluorescence and confocal microscopy.
Simulator of the human intestinal microbial ecosystem (SHIME®).
- “Bakery Inspirience” for the manufacture of leavened baked goods and measuring instruments for their rheological characterization; OXITEST as well as the extraction and digestion system of soluble and insoluble dietary fibres;
- “Dairy Center” for the production of dairy products (e.g., cheese, fermented milk);
- “Vegetable fermentation”* for the production of fermented vegetable and fruit based products and for microbial biomass production.
* financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) Investment for Growth and Jobs Programme 2014-2020