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Projects. Life and Earth Sciences

Novel insights, tools and measures to mitigate emerging risk by yeasts in the food chain

Lead Researcher: Amparo Querol Simón
Research Centre: Instituto de Agroquímica y Tecnología de Alimentos. CSIC. Paterna, Valencia.

Abstract: 

Amparo Querol SimónYeasts are present in relevant processes in some of the most important subsectors in the food industry, including meat, dairy products and beverages, and represent an overall strategic industry for Europe with an accumulated yearly turnover of more than €500 billion. Yeasts have an impeccably good record compared to other microorganism like virus, bacteria and some filamentous fungi in terms of food safety. However, in the last years, changes in the food processing, due to consumer's choice, are affecting food safety. This, together with the increasing frequency of immunocompromised individuals in the community, produced a higher incidence of yeast infections, including those caused by food yeast. Hence, the main goal of this project is to understand the mechanisms responsible for the virulence of food-related yeasts on humans, and to provide tools and recommendations to prevent the release into the food chain of yeasts strains that may pose a risk to the population. We are currently studying the pathogenicity factors of yeasts. For this purpose, we are developing methods to evaluate their pathogenicity and we are also investigating the mechanisms associated with the virulence by whole genome sequence of clinical and food yeast strains. This project will provide to the food industry a new simple methodology based on invertebrate models to test for yeast pathogenicity before yeasts are used in the food chain. All these results can also be valuable to improve health quality, a key element in the modern food market.


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