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Fermentation of food products: optimised lactic acid bacteria strains
with reduced potential to accumulate biogenic amines

Contract number : QLK1-2002-02388
Contract type : Shared Cost Project
Total cost : Under negotiation
EC contribution : Under negotiation
Starting date : not yet determined
Duration : 36 Months
Scientific Officer : Dyanne Bennink
Project website : not yet available
Dr Paloma López
Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas
Estructura y Función de Proteinas
Centro de Investigaciones Biológicas
Velázquez 144
28006 Madrid
Tel.: +34-915 611 800
Fax: +34-915 627 518
E-mail: plg @

Lactic acid bacteria (LAB) play an important role in the production of fermented food by dairy and wine industries. Decarboxylation of di- and tricarboxylic acids by LAB is a desirable step resulting in the production of compounds that enhance the organoleptic properties and/or the stability of the finished products. However, decarboxylation of amino acids (e.g. histidine, tyrosine) leads to the production of biogenic amines (BA) (e.g. histamine, tyramine), which have undesirable toxic properties. The goal of the present proposal is to acquire an in-depth understanding of the individual acid, and amino acid decarboxylation pathways, to obtain strains unable to produce BA and to generate aroma producer strains resistant to acid stress. We aim to develop strains and systems for the food industries to avoid health risks of BA by controlling their production and, in parallel, to improve the beneficial citrate/malate decarboxylating pathways.


Decarboxylation of metabolites is extremely important for the quality of the fermentation products both in a positive and negative manner, which is dependent on the particular substrate and fermentation process. Metabolism of carboxylic acids generates aroma compounds and lactic acid, which increase organoleptic properties and hygienic quality (impeding growth of pathogenic strains) of the fermentation products, whereas BA production results in food poisoning. The overall objective of the project is to exploit decarboxylation pathways in LAB to develop safe and optimised food technologies. The main goals are:

  • to control and/or eliminate the production of BA in fermented food and beverages by utilisation of new LAB strains and/or systems during the fermentation processes. The evaluation and validation of the strains and methods developed in this project will allow the industrial partner to establish a well defined system for the elimination of the health risk associated with the production of BA with the final aim of producing food with safe levels of BA;
  • to improve quality of food and beverages by utilisation of new LAB strains, which are acid-resistant and better producers of aroma. The citric and malic acids fermentations result in the production of lactic acid and aroma compounds such as diacetyl, which improve, respectively, the hygienic quality (e.g., impeding the growth of pathogenic strains) and the organoleptic properties of dairy and wine. The validation of the new food-grade LAB strains will allow the industrial partner to obtain bacterial cultures for the production of high quality food and beverages.

The specific objectives of this project are

  • to improve screening methods for the detection of LAB producing unwanted BA substances during milk fermentation and wine production;
  • to use different LAB as model organisms to develop methods for minimisation of BA production in fermented dairy prducts and wine;
  • to develop tools to construct food-grade null mutant alleles and to develop food quality integration systems;
  • to construct novel food-grade strains capable of improving and/or modifying the organoleptic properties of dairy products and wine;
  • to engineer strains with altered decarboxylating pathways useful for the dairy and wine industries as starter strains;
  • to develop new LAB strains resistant to lactate and acidic conditions.
(expected) Results and achievements

We aim to construct modified strains and to develop systems to minimise the health risk associated with the production of BA in fermented dairy products and wine, and to construct novel strains capable to improve and/or modify the organoleptic properties of cheese and wine.

The specific expected achievements are:

  • to develop tools to obtain specific mutant genes,
  • to genetically and biochemically characterise the constructed mutant strains, and
  • to increase controlled gene expression with the aim of optimising LAB as cell factories with reduced occurrence of hazards.

We will engineer the decarboxylating pathways to reduce the accumulation of poisoning BA, in order to obtain healthful and high quality food products in accordance with one of the most important European society requests. The full exploitation derived from such analyses will be of direct relevance to the competitiveness of biotechnological companies in the European Union.


University of Groningen
Department of Microbiology
Kerklaan 30
9751 NN Haren
The Netherlands
Université Victor Segalen Bordeaux 2
Biotechnology and Applied Microbiology
Faculty of Enology
351, Cours de la Libération
33405 Talence
Universite de Bourgogne
Ecole Nationale Supérieure de Biologie Appliquée à la Nutrition et à l'Alimentation
Laboratoire de Microbiologie
Esplanade Erasme, 1
21000 Dijon
Chr. Hansen A/S
Department of Genomics and Strain Development.
Bøge Alle 10-12
2970 Hørsholm
Instituto de Biologia Experimental e Technologica
Apartado 12
2781-901 Oeiras
Universidad Nacional de Rosario
Instituto de Biología Molecular y Celular de Rosario
Suipacha 531
2000 Rosario
Instituto de Productos Lacteos de Asturias
Carretera de Infiesto S/N
33300 Madrid

Fifth Framework Programme

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