Heterogeneity in spores of food spoilage fungi
Fungal food spoilage often starts with a contamination with spores. These reproductive structures are abundant in the environment. Experimental data strongly indicate the existence of subpopulations of spores with different levels of resistance to preservation methods. The aim of this project is to study the extent of this heterogeneity and to study the underlying mechanisms using spores of Aspergillus niger, Paecilomyces variotii, Penicillium roqueforti, and Saccharomyces cerevisiae subsp. diastaticus as model systems. The role of the genetic background, environmental conditions, and the developmental state of the mycelium and spores will be studied. Quantitative imaging, genome and RNA sequencing, functional gene analysis, and modelling will be used, which should reveal leads for novel mild intervention protocols to prevent food spoilage.
- Study the impact of the genetic background by using a collection of strains of different geographic origin and originating from contaminated food and beverages.
- Study the impact of environmental growth conditions by isolating spores from colonies grown at different substrates either or not in the presence of sub-lethal stress conditions.
- Study the impact of the developmental stage of the colony and the conidia by isolating spores of different age from different zones of colonies.
- Show a proof of concept of a novel processing treatment that prevents fungal spoilage by making use of a combination of mild interventions.
- Description of the impact of the genetic background on variability in stress resistance between strains of the model fungi used in this project.
- Description of the impact of environmental growth conditions on variability in stress resistance between strains of the model fungi used in this project.
- Description of the impact of the developmental state of the mycelium and the spores on variability in stress resistance between strains of the model fungi used in this project.
- Molecules triggering germination of a (sub)population of spores of the model fungi used in this project.
- Mechanism(s) underlying spore heterogeneity with respect to stress resistance.
- Generic models describing growth/no growth boundaries and/or germination and outgrowth kinetics.
- Proof of concept of a novel processing treatment that prevents.