Bacterial endospores and biofilms are major obstacles in the food industry’s
quest for more-effective and less-intensive preservation strategies. The TI
Food and Nutrition project Spores and biofilms studied the key mechanisms
involved in the germination and outgrowth of spores and the development of
biofilms. Knowledge of these mechanisms could provide leads for new
Several foodborne pathogenic microorganisms and food spoilage microbes have the
capability to form endospores. These spores easily survive pasteurisation and
other processes designed to produce ambient-stable foods. Germination and
outgrowth of surviving spores during cooling and (chilled) storage can lead to
product spoilage and foodborne infections.
In addition, most microbes have the capability to adhere to surfaces and to
form biofilms. In a biofilm, cells are embedded in a matrix of excreted
polymeric substances that keeps the community attached to the surface and
provides a buffer against the environment. Biofilms are often difficult to
remove completely and their cells are resistant to disinfection treatments.
In this project, model strains and natural isolates of relevant foodborne
pathogens and spoilage microbes were used to inves¬tigate spore germination and
outgrowth, and biofilm development. By studying these phenomena at population,
single cell and molecular levels, under conditions typical for food processing,
the project has generated knowledge and tools that support the food industry to
develop a new generation of safe foods.
Time frame: 2007 – 2011