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Foodborne pathogens and food spoilage microoganisms

Research in this area centers on investigations on the incidence, tenacity and biodiversity, as well as virulence gene expression, of bacterial pathogens in different foods under different storage or production conditions. Specific detection methods are developed. The bacteria are comprehensively characterized and identified to genetic lineage level (genotype). Critical control points for controlling contamination or growth of bacteria are identified throughout the food chain. The research is supported and supplemented by electron microscopic studies which serve to elucidate interactions of the microorganisms with the food matrix.
Research on foodborne pathogen research has high priority, as these bacteria are causative agents of foodborne infection or intoxications (e.g., Salmonella, EHEC/VTEC, Listeria). A specific emphasis in the department’s research is on the antibiotic resistance of pathogenic or spoilage bacteria. Highly problematic, multidrug-resistant bacteria have developed in the past few years which are also able to spread via the food route. The incidences of such resistant bacteria and possibilities for reducing or eliminating these bacteria in the food chain, e.g. by the use of bacteriophages as biocontrol agents, are investigated. This research is performed in close collaboration with the competence center bacteriophages at the department and with other MRI departments.