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Research Call

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DAFM Award

DAFM National Call 2010 10RDTCD710 TCD (UCC) €99,966

Project Title:

Preventing Beer Spoilage in Lager Fermentations: Optimisation of the production of the antimicrobial defensin peptides in lager strains of yeast, a natural defense against beer-spoiling bacteria.

Project Coordinator:

Dr Ursula Bond

Project Abstract

Beer spoilage is a major concern to every Master Brewer in the world. Contamination of brews with beer spoiling bacteria can lead to loss of entire batches of beer resulting in severe financial losses for the brewery. Product withdrawal or recall can have major implications for Brand and business. In a FIRM-funded research project, we have tested whether the naturally occurring antimicrobial agent β-defensin, which forms part of the innate immune system in humans, could be effective as a bacteriocidal agent against beer spoiling bacteria (BSMs). Having demonstrated the effectiveness of β-defensin against BSMs, we then engineered a lager yeast strain to express β-defensin and to secrete the peptide into the beer. The secreted peptide was capable of killing BSMs seeded during fermentation but not in bottled beer. This novel approach not only provides a prophylactic mechanism to prevent beer-spoilage but additionally provides added neutraceutic value to the product as the small quantities of the antimicrobial peptide remaining in the lager can enhance the natural levels of β-defensin in the oral cavity. Defensins are important in maintaining the natural balance of the normal flora of the oral cavity and to protect against bacterial infections. The purpose of the proposed research is the carry out a number of experiments to determine the optimum conditions for the production of β-defensin during and after fermentations and to determine the effective bacterial load that can be eliminated by β-defensin in contaminated fermentations. Our ultimate goal will be to prepare a patent application to protect and license the yeast strains expressing β-defensin and other subsequent modification. To achieve this, we will instigate a Road to Commercialisation strategy involving preparation of an Invention Disclosure Form, market analysis, identification and engagement with of potential industrial partners with the aim of licensing the technology to stakeholders in the Brewery Industry.

Final Report:

Final Report 10RDTCD710 (pdf 324Kb)