The Teagasc Food Programme focuses on quality, safety and food product innovation. It is undertaken in collaboration with universities and research institutes in Ireland, the European Union and the USA. The Food Programme is internationally competitive from a scientific point of view while being targeted and applied to generate new opportunities for the Irish food industry The Teagasc Food Programme encompasses many aspects of food science and technology: Food Processing and Functionality, Food Safety, Foods for Health, Food Cultures, Food Quality and Structure, Meat and Meat Products, Prepared Consumer Foods. The Food Programme is run from the Teagasc Food Research Centres at Ashtown, Dublin 14 and Moorepark, Fermoy, Co. Cork

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  • Enhancing muscle fatty acid profile by pasture finishing within a dairy-origin calf-to-steer beef production system and its potential to authenticate the dietary history of the cattle

    Moloney, Aidan; Keane, Michael G.; Monahan, F. J.; O'Callaghan, Tom (Teagasc, 2021-11-18)
    The influence of modifying a traditional 24-mo dairy steer calf to beef production system on the fatty acid composition of the longissimus muscle and its potential to authenticate beef provenance was examined. Fifty-four male calves (n = 18 per sire breed), progeny of Holstein-Friesian cows mated with Holstein-Friesian (HF), Aberdeen Angus (AA) and Belgian Blue (BB) bulls were at pasture from March until August of their second year when they were assigned to a 3 (breed types) × 3 (finishing strategies) factorial experiment. The three finishing strategies were (i) pasture only for a further 94 d prior to slaughter (21 mo of age) (Grass), (ii) concentrates ad libitum indoors for 94 d prior to slaughter (21 mo of age) (EC) and (iii) pasture only for a further 94 d followed by concentrates ad libitum indoors for 98 d prior to slaughter (24 mo of age) (LC). Compared to EC, muscle from Grass had a lower intramuscular fat concentration and omega-6: omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) ratio and higher proportion of conjugated linoleic acid. A longer period at pasture pre-concentrate finishing increased the concentration of omega-3 PUFA which was still lower than in Grass. To maximise the omega-3 PUFA concentration, a late-maturing breed is more appropriate while to maximise conjugated linoleic acid, an early-maturing breed is more appropriate and both should be finished on grass. Chemometric analysis confirmed that the fatty acid profile can authenticate “Grass-Finished” beef per se and has potential to distinguish “Concentrate-Finished” beef based on the length of grazing prior to finishing, but not distinguish between sire breeds.
  • Effect of applying crust-freezing after skin-packaging on the natural microflora of Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) during storage at low temperatures

    Pedrós-Garrido, S.; Condón-Abanto, S.; Calanche, J.B.; Beltrán, J.A.; Lyng, J.G.; Bolton, Declan; Brunton, Nigel; Whyte, P.; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; 13F458 (Teagasc, 2021-03-26)
    The aim of the present study was to evaluate the effect of crust-freezing (CF) on fresh salmon fillets in skin-packaging during storage at −2.0°C. After CF, all treated samples and untreated controls were stored in a refrigerated cabinet for 20 d. Sampling was carried out at days 0, 2, 6, 8, 10, 14 and 20 in order to analyse total volatile basic nitrogen (TVB-N) and levels of mesophilic and psychrophilic viable counts (MVC and PVC). Enterobacteriaceae (ENT), lactic acid bacteria (LAB), H2S-producing bacteria (SPB) and Pseudomonas spp. (PSE). No significant differences in TVB-N were found between samples except for those taken on day 20 where TVB-N levels of CF samples were lower than controls. Our results suggest that ENT might be the limiting microbial group to determine the end of shelf-life. Thus, if this group is used as an indicator of acceptability, the shelf-life of salmon can be extended from 8 to 20 d when skin-packed and then treated with CF.
  • A preliminary study of Salmonella spp., Listeria monocytogenes, Escherichia coli O157, Enterococcus faecalis and Clostridium spp. in Irish cattle

    Russell, L.; Galindo, C.P.; Whyte, P.; Bolton, Declan; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; Teagasc Walsh Scholarship Programme; 14/SF/487; 2014239 (Teagasc, 2021-06-03)
    Although Salmonella spp., Escherichia coli O157, Listeria monocytogenes, Enterococcus faecalis and Clostridium spp. present a significant food safety and/or spoilage issue for the beef sector, there are limited data on their prevalence in Irish cattle. The objectives of this preliminary study were to investigate the distribution (percentage of farms positive) of Salmonella spp., E. coli O157, L. monocytogenes, E. faecalis and Clostridium spp. and the overall prevalence (%) of these bacteria in cattle on a small cohort of Irish beef farms. A total of 121 fresh bovine faecal samples were obtained on 10 randomly selected beef farms in the Northeast of Ireland and tested for the target pathogens using standard culture-based methods. Presumptive positives were confirmed using previously published polymerase chain reaction (PCR) methods. Salmonella were not detected in any of the samples. E. coli O157, L. monocytogenes, E. faecalis and Clostridium spp. were present on 50%, 40%, 100% and 100% of farms, respectively, with overall (all farms) prevalence rates in cattle of 9%, 8.2%, 61.9% and 87.6%, respectively. This study suggests that E. coli O157 may be more prevalent than previously thought and L. monocytogenes, E. faecalis and Clostridium spp. are widespread in Irish beef animals.
  • Gerry Downey: an authentic spectroscopist

    Davies, A. N.; Downey, Gerard (2021-12-16)
    This year has seen the retirement of Gerry Downey from active service with the Irish National Agriculture and Food Research Institute, Teagasc1 in Dublin. As one of Europe’s leading innovative spectroscopic chemometricians and a great positive personality to have as a project partner, we thought it appropriate to dedicate a column to Gerry’s career, however embarrassed he may be about the idea!
  • The Sensory Quality and Volatile Profile of Dark Chocolate Enriched with Encapsulated Probiotic Lactobacillus plantarum Bacteria

    Mirković, Milica; Seratlić, Sanja; Kilcawley, Kieran; Mannion, David; Mirković, Nemanja; Radulović, Zorica; Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development of Serbia; 046009; 046010 (MDPI AG, 2018-08-06)
    Cocoa and dark chocolate have a wide variety of powerful antioxidants and other nutrients that can positively affect human health. Probiotic dark chocolate has the potential to be a new product in the growing number of functional foods. In this study, encapsulated potential probiotic Lactobacillus plantarum 564 and commercial probiotic Lactobacillus plantarum 299v were added in the production of dark chocolate. The results show very good survival of probiotic bacteria after production and during storage, reaching 108 cfu/g in the first 60 days and over 106 cfu/g up to 180 days. No statistically significant difference (p > 0.05) in chemical composition and no major differences in the volatile profiles between control and experimental chocolate samples were observed, indicating no impact of probiotic bacteria on compositional and sensory characteristics of dark chocolate. The sensory evaluation of control and both probiotic dark chocolate samples showed excellent sensory quality after 60 and 180 days of storage, demonstrating that probiotics did not affect aroma, texture and appearance of chocolate. Due to a high viability of bacterial cells and acceptable sensory properties, it can be concluded that encapsulated probiotics Lb. plantarum 564 and Lb. plantarum 299v could be successfully used in the production of probiotic dark chocolate.
  • Screening of Contaminants of Emerging Concern in Microalgae Food Supplements

    Martín-Girela, Isabel; Albero, Beatriz; Tiwari, Brijesh K.; Miguel, Esther; Aznar, Ramón; European Union; EAPA_338/2016 (MDPI AG, 2020-05-20)
    The frenetic lifestyle in the developed countries has driven us to be deficient in some nutrients, which may be overcome by supplements. Microalgae, like spirulina (Arthrospira platensis) and chlorella (Chlorella ssp.) are widely used as supplements due to their high contents of macroand micronutrients. Chlorella and spirulina can be grown naturally in a range of water bodies, showing their high adaptability to harsh environments. They are mainly produced in countries with poor water quality and sometimes inexistent water legislation, which can be a vector of micropollutant introduction into the food chain. Thus, a method for the simultaneous determination of 31 emerging contaminants commonly found as micropollutants in freshwater (pharmaceutical and personal care products, hormones, flame retardants and biocides) in two microalgae is presented. Target contaminants were extracted from the microalgae employing ultrasound-assisted matrix solid-phase dispersion followed by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry analysis. The method was validated for chlorella and spirulina with recoveries ranging from 70% to 111% at concentrations of 25 and 100 ng·g −1 , and good linearity in the range from 5 to 400 ng·g −1 with limits of detection below 2.5 ng·g −1 , in both microalgae. The method validated was applied to a range of microalgae supplement foods and the results proved that the compounds studied were below limits of detection.
  • Transcriptional control of central carbon metabolic flux in Bifidobacteria by two functionally similar, yet distinct LacI-type regulators

    Lanigan, Noreen; Kelly, Emer; Arzamasov, Aleksandr A.; Stanton, Catherine; Rodionov, Dmitry A.; van Sinderen, Douwe; Science Foundation Ireland; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; Russian Science Foundation; SFI/12/RC/2273-P1; et al. (Springer Science and Business Media LLC, 2019-11-28)
    Bifdobacteria resident in the gastrointestinal tract (GIT) are subject to constantly changing environmental conditions, which require rapid adjustments in gene expression. Here, we show that two predicted LacI-type transcription factors (TFs), designated AraQ and MalR1, are involved in regulating the central, carbohydrate-associated metabolic pathway (the so-called phosphoketolase pathway or bifd shunt) of the gut commensal Bifdobacterium breve UCC2003. These TFs appear to not only control transcription of genes involved in the bifd shunt and each other, but also seem to commonly and directly afect transcription of other TF-encoding genes, as well as genes related to uptake and metabolism of various carbohydrates. This complex and interactive network of AraQ/MalR1-mediated gene regulation provides previously unknown insights into the governance of carbon metabolism in bifdobacteria.
  • Gamma-aminobutyric acid-producing lactobacilli positively affect metabolism and depressive-like behaviour in a mouse model of metabolic syndrome

    Patterson, E.; Ryan, P. M.; Wiley, N.; Carafa, I.; Sherwin, E.; Moloney, G.; Franciosi, E.; Mandal, R.; Wishart, D. S.; Tuohy, K.; et al. (Springer Science and Business Media LLC, 2019-11-08)
    Metabolic and neuroactive metabolite production represents one of the mechanisms through which the gut microbiota can impact health. One such metabolite, gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), can modulate glucose homeostasis and alter behavioural patterns in the host. We previously demonstrated that oral administration of GABA-producing Lactobacillus brevis DPC6108 has the potential to increase levels of circulating insulin in healthy rats. Therefore, the objective of this study was to assess the efcacy of endogenous microbial GABA production in improving metabolic and behavioural outcomes in a mouse model of metabolic dysfunction. Diet-induced obese and metabolically dysfunctional mice received one of two GABA-producing strains, L. brevis DPC6108 or L. brevis DSM32386, daily for 12 weeks. After 8 and 10 weeks of intervention, the behavioural and metabolic profles of the mice were respectively assessed. Intervention with both L. brevis strains attenuated several abnormalities associated with metabolic dysfunction, causing a reduction in the accumulation of mesenteric adipose tissue, increased insulin secretion following glucose challenge, improved plasma cholesterol clearance and reduced despair-like behaviour and basal corticosterone production during the forced swim test. Taken together, this exploratory dataset indicates that intervention with GABA-producing lactobacilli has the potential to improve metabolic and depressive- like behavioural abnormalities associated with metabolic syndrome in mice.
  • Metabolome and microbiome profiling of a stress-sensitive rat model of gut-brain axis dysfunction

    Bassett, Shalome A.; Young, Wayne; Fraser, Karl; Dalziel, Julie E.; Webster, Jim; Ryan, Leigh; Fitzgerald, Patrick; Stanton, Catherine; Dinan, Timothy G.; Cryan, John F.; et al. (Springer Science and Business Media LLC, 2019-10-01)
    Stress negatively impacts gut and brain health. Individual diferences in response to stress have been linked to genetic and environmental factors and more recently, a role for the gut microbiota in the regulation of stress-related changes has been demonstrated. However, the mechanisms by which these factors infuence each other are poorly understood, and there are currently no established robust biomarkers of stress susceptibility. To determine the metabolic and microbial signatures underpinning physiological stress responses, we compared stress-sensitive Wistar Kyoto (WKY) rats to the normoanxious Sprague Dawley (SD) strain. Here we report that acute stress-induced strain-specifc changes in brain lipid metabolites were a prominent feature in WKY rats. The relative abundance of Lactococcus correlated with the relative proportions of many brain lipids. In contrast, plasma lipids were signifcantly elevated in response to stress in SD rats, but not in WKY rats. Supporting these fndings, we found that the greatest diference between the SD and WKY microbiomes were the predicted relative abundance of microbial genes involved in lipid and energy metabolism. Our results provide potential insights for developing novel biomarkers of stress vulnerability, some of which appear genotype specifc.
  • Large-scale genome-wide analysis links lactic acid bacteria from food with the gut microbiome

    Pasolli, Edoardo; De Filippis, Francesca; Mauriello, Italia E.; Cumbo, Fabio; Walsh, Aaron M.; Leech, John; Cotter, Paul D.; Segata, Nicola; Ercolini, Danilo; European Union; et al. (Springer Science and Business Media LLC, 2020-05-25)
    Lactic acid bacteria (LAB) are fundamental in the production of fermented foods and several strains are regarded as probiotics. Large quantities of live LAB are consumed within fermented foods, but it is not yet known to what extent the LAB we ingest become members of the gut microbiome. By analysis of 9445 metagenomes from human samples, we demonstrate that the prevalence and abundance of LAB species in stool samples is generally low and linked to age, lifestyle, and geography, with Streptococcus thermophilus and Lactococcus lactis being most prevalent. Moreover, we identify genome-based differences between food and gut microbes by considering 666 metagenome-assembled genomes (MAGs) newly reconstructed from fermented food microbiomes along with 154,723 human MAGs and 193,078 reference genomes. Our large-scale genome-wide analysis demonstrates that closely related LAB strains occur in both food and gut environments and provides unprecedented evidence that fermented foods can be indeed regarded as a possible source of LAB for the gut microbiome.
  • Immunoglobulin G from bovine milk primes intestinal epithelial cells for increased colonization of bifidobacteria

    Morrin, Sinead T.; McCarthy, Geoffrey; Kennedy, Deirdre; Marotta, Mariarosaria; Irwin, Jane A.; Hickey, Rita M.; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme; 2014058 (Springer Science and Business Media LLC, 2020-06-18)
    A bovine colostrum fraction (BCF) was recently shown to enhance the adherence of several commensal organisms to intestinal epithelial cells through modulating the epithelial cell surface. In this study, the main components of the BCF were examined to investigate the active component/s responsible for driving the changes in the intestinal cells. The adherence of various bifdobacteria to HT-29 cells was increased when the intestinal cells were pre-incubated with immunoglobulin G (IgG). Modulation of the intestinal cells by IgG was concentration dependent with 16 mg/ mL IgG resulting in a 43-fold increase in the adhesion of Bifdobacterium longum NCIMB 8809 to HT-29 cells. Periodate treatment of colostral IgG prior to performing the colonization studies resulted in a reduction in the adhesion of the strain to the intestinal cells demonstrating that the glycans of IgG may be important in modulating the intestinal cells for enhanced commensal adhesion. IgG isolated from mature milk also resulted in signifcant increases in adhesion of the Bifdobacterium strains tested albeit at reduced levels (3.9-fold). The impact of IgG on the HT-29 cells was also visualised via scanning electron microscopy. This study builds a strong case for the inclusion of IgG ingredients sourced from cow’s milk in functional foods aimed at increasing numbers of health promoting bacteria in the human gut.
  • Viromes of one year old infants reveal the impact of birth mode on microbiome diversity

    McCann, Angela; Ryan, Feargal J.; Stockdale, Stephen R.; Dalmasso, Marion; Blake, Tony; Ryan, C. Anthony; STANTON, CATHERINE; Mills, Susan; Ross, Paul R.; Hill, Colin; et al. (PeerJ, 2018-05-07)
    Establishing a diverse gut microbiota after birth is being increasingly recognised as important for preventing illnesses later in life. It is well established that bacterial diversity rapidly increases post-partum; however, few studies have examined the infant gut virome/phageome during this developmental period. We performed a metagenomic analysis of 20 infant faecal viromes at one year of age to determine whether spontaneous vaginal delivery (SVD) or caesarean section (CS) influenced viral composition. We find that birth mode results in distinctly different viral communities, with SVD infants having greater viral and bacteriophage diversity. We demonstrate that CrAssphage is acquired early in life, both in this cohort and two others, although no difference in birth mode is detected. A previous study has shown that bacterial OTU’s (operational taxonomic units) identified in the same infants could not discriminate between birth mode at 12 months of age. Therefore, our results indicate that vertical transmission of viral communities from mother to child may play a role in shaping the early life microbiome, and that birth mode should be considered when studying the early life gut virome.
  • The response of foodborne pathogens to osmotic and desiccation stresses in the food chain

    Burgess, Catherine; Gianotti, Andrea; Gruzdev, Nadia; Holah, John; Knøchel, Susanne; Lehner, Angelika; Margas, Edyta; Esser, Stephan Schmitz; Sela (Saldinger), Shlomo; Tresse, Odile; et al. (Elsevier BV, 2016-03)
    In combination with other strategies, hyperosmolarity and desiccation are frequently used by the food processing industry as a means to prevent bacterial proliferation, and particularly that of foodborne pathogens, in food products. However, it is increasingly observed that bacteria, including human pathogens, encode mechanisms to survive and withstand these stresses. This review provides an overview of the mechanisms employed by Salmonella spp., Shiga toxin producing E. coli, Cronobacter spp., Listeria monocytogenes and Campylobacter spp. to tolerate osmotic and desiccation stresses and identifies gaps in knowledge which need to be addressed to ensure the safety of low water activity and desiccated food products.
  • Effect of storage, food processing and novel extraction technologies on onions flavonoid content: A review

    Ren, Feiyue; Nian, Yingqun; Perussello, Camila A.; Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine; FIRM 06/NITARFC6 (Elsevier, 2020-06-30)
    Onions play an important part in the daily diet for most populations around the world owing to their nutritional composition and their unique capacity to naturally flavor dishes. Onions contain quercetin and its derivatives - the predominant flavonoid in onions that exert a great contribution to the effective bioactive properties of onion, including its derived products. The present paper comprehensively reviewed flavonoids (with a specific focus on quercetin in onions): their chemical composition, distribution, bioactivities in onion, and impacting factors with a focus on how they can be affected by various post-harvest conditions (storage and food processing). In addition, research on the extraction of flavonoid compounds from onions using a number of novel technologies was also reviewed.
  • Ranking hazards pertaining to human health concerns from land application of anaerobic digestate

    Nag, Rajat; Whyte, Paul; Markey, Bryan K.; O'Flaherty, Vincent; Bolton, Declan; Fenton, Owen; Richards, Karl G.; Cummins, Enda; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; 14/SF/847 (Elsevier BV, 2020-03)
    Anaerobic digestion (AD) has been identified as one of the cleanest producers of green energy. AD typically uses organic materials as feedstock and, through a series of biological processes, produces methane. Farmyard manure and slurry (FYM&S) are important AD feedstock and are typically mixed with agricultural waste, grass and/or food wastes. The feedstock may contain many different pathogens which can survive the AD process and hence also possibly be present in the final digestate. In this study, a semi-quantitative screening tool was developed to rank pathogens of potential health concern emerging from AD digestate. A scoring system was used to categorise likely inactivation during AD, hazard pathways and finally, severity as determined from reported human mortality rates, number of global human-deaths and infections per 100,000 populations. Five different conditions including mesophilic and thermophilic AD and three different pasteurisation conditions were assessed in terms of specific pathogen inactivation. In addition, a number of scenarios were assessed to consider foodborne incidence data from Ireland and Europe and to investigate the impact of raw FYM&S application (without AD and pasteurisation). A sensitivity analysis revealed that the score for the mortality rate (S3) was the most sensitive parameter (rank coefficient 0.49) to influence the final score S; followed by thermal inactivation score (S1, 0.25) and potential contamination pathways (S2, 0.16). Across all the scenarios considered, the screening tool prioritised Cryptosporidium parvum, Salmonella spp., norovirus, Streptococcus pyogenes, enteropathogenic E. coli (EPEC), Mycobacterium spp., Salmonella typhi (followed by S. paratyphi), Clostridium spp., Listeria monocytogenes and Campylobacter coli as the highest-ranking pathogens of human health concern resulting from AD digestate in Ireland. This tool prioritises potentially harmful pathogens which can emerge from AD digestate and highlights where regulation and intervention may be required.
  • Whey proteins: targets of oxidation, or mediators of redox protection.

    Giblin, Linda; Yalçın, A Süha; Biçim, Gökhan; Krämer, Anna C; Chen, Zhifei; Callanan, Michael J; Arranz, Elena; Davies, Michael J; European Cooperation in Science and Technology; Novo Nordisk Foundation; et al. (Taylor and Francis, 2019-01-01)
    Bovine whey proteins are highly valued dairy ingredients. This is primarily due to their amino acid content, digestibility, bioactivities and their processing characteristics. One of the reported bioactivities of whey proteins is antioxidant activity. Numerous dietary intervention trials with humans and animals indicate that consumption of whey products can modulate redox biomarkers to reduce oxidative stress. This bioactivity has in part been assigned to whey peptides using a range of biochemical or cellular assays in vitro. Superimposing whey peptide sequences from gastrointestinal samples, with whey peptides proven to be antioxidant in vitro, allows us to propose peptides from whey likely to exhibit antioxidant activity in the diet. However, whey proteins themselves are targets of oxidation during processing particularly when exposed to high thermal loads and/or extensive processing (e.g. infant formula manufacture). Oxidative damage of whey proteins can be selective with regard to the residues that are modified and are associated with the degree of protein unfolding, with α-Lactalbumin more susceptible than β-Lactoglobulin. Such oxidative damage may have adverse effects on human health. This review summarises how whey proteins can modulate cellular redox pathways and conversely how whey proteins can be oxidised during processing. Given the extensive processing steps that whey proteins are often subjected to, we conclude that oxidation during processing is likely to compromise the positive health attributes associated with whey proteins.
  • From Farm to Fork: New Strategies for Quality Evaluation of Fresh Meat and Processed Meat Products

    Delgado-Pando, Gonzalo; Álvarez, Carlos; Morán, Lara (Hindawi Limited, 2019-11-14)
    Meat production has increased globally over the past decades and is expected to keep growing. At the same time, consumers have become more demanding with respect to the quality of meat and meat products. Producing high quality meat consistently is a big challenge for meat producers, processors, and retailers due to the intrinsic variability of the raw material, but it also generates the necessity to develop, improve, and upgrade the current quality analyses by faster and more reliable ones. Precisely, as results of the recent technological and biotechnological advances, a plethora of new possibilities have been opened for the meat production and processing sectors, and a vast improvement of the quality assessment and assurance throughout the whole processing could now be a reality. This special issue aims to cover the recent advances on quality assurance and assessment of fresh meat and meat products.
  • Metabolic phenotyping of the human microbiome

    Barton, Wiley; O'Sullivan, Orla; Cotter, Paul D.; Science Foundation Ireland; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; SFI/12/RC/2273; 11/PI/1137; 13/SIRG/2160; 16/RC/3835 (F1000 Research, 2019-11-19)
    The human microbiome has been identified as having a key role in health and numerous diseases. Trillions of microbial cells and viral particles comprise the microbiome, each representing modifiable working elements of an intricate bioactive ecosystem. The significance of the human microbiome as it relates to human biology has progressed through culture-dependent (for example, media-based methods) and, more recently, molecular (for example, genetic sequencing and metabolomic analysis) techniques. The latter have become increasingly popular and evolved from being used for taxonomic identification of microbiota to elucidation of functional capacity (sequencing) and metabolic activity (metabolomics). This review summarises key elements of the human microbiome and its metabolic capabilities within the context of health and disease.
  • Development of a dehydrated fortified food base from fermented milk and parboiled wheat, and comparison of its composition and reconstitution behavior with those of commercial dried dairy‐cereal blends

    Shevade, Ashwini V.; O'Callaghan, Yvonne C.; O'Brien, Nora M.; O'Connor, Thomas P.; Guinee, Timothy P.; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; 14/F/805 (Wiley, 2019-10-15)
    Dehydrated blends of milk and cereal are reconstituted and consumed as a nutritious soup or porridge in many regions; the composition and reconstitution behavior of the blends are likely to impact on nutritional quality and consumer acceptability of the soup/porridge. Experimental samples of dried fermented milk‐bulgur wheat blend (FMBW) and commercial samples of dried dairy‐cereal blends, namely kishk, tarhana, and super cereal plus corn–soy blend (SCpCSB) were compared for composition, color, water sorption, and reconstitution characteristics. FMBW blends had higher contents of protein, Ca, lactose and lactic acid, lower levels of salt (NaCl) and Fe, and a lighter, more‐yellow color (higher L* and b*‐color co‐ordinates) than tarhana or kishk. Compared with SCpCSB, FMBW had numerically higher levels of protein, lactose, and lactic acid, lower levels of Ca, Fe, Zn, and Mg, and lower pH. Tarhana had highest mean levels of starch, and on reconstitution (133 g/kg) had highest water holding capacity, viscosity during pasting and cooling, yield stress (σ0), consistency coefficient (K), and viscosity on shearing from 20 to 120 s −1 at 60°C. Reconstituted FMBW, kishk, and SCpCSB had similar pasting and flow behavior properties. Overall, the composition (starch, protein, Ca, Mg), pasting and flow behavior characteristics of FMBW were closer to those SCpCSB and kishk than to tarhana. The results suggest that the FMBW powder, on appropriate supplementation with Ca, Fe, Zn and Mg, could be used for the development of customized fortified blended foods for specific groups.
  • Actinomyces Produces Defensin-Like Bacteriocins (Actifensins) with a Highly Degenerate Structure and Broad Antimicrobial Activity

    Sugrue, Ivan; O’Connor, Paula M.; Hill, Colin; Stanton, Catherine; Ross, R. Paul; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme; JPI; Science Foundation Ireland; SFI/12/RC/2273 (American Society for Microbiology, 2020-01-29)
    We identified a strain of Actinomyces ruminicola which produces a potent bacteriocin with activity against a broad range of Gram-positive bacteria, many of which are pathogenic to animals and humans. The bacteriocin was purified and found to have a mass of 4,091 ± 1 Da with a sequence of GFGCNLITSNPYQCSNHCKSVGYRGGYCKLRTVCTCY containing three disulfide bridges. Surprisingly, near relatives of actifensin were found to be a series of related eukaryotic defensins displaying greater than 50% identity to the bacteriocin. A pangenomic screen further revealed that production of actifensin-related bacteriocins is a common trait within the genus, with 47 being encoded in 161 genomes. Furthermore, these bacteriocins displayed a remarkable level of diversity with a mean amino acid identity of only 52% between strains/species. This level of redundancy suggests that this new class of bacteriocins may provide a very broad structural basis on which to deliver and design new broad-spectrum antimicrobials for treatment of animal and human infections. IMPORTANCE Bacteriocins (ribosomally produced antimicrobial peptides) are potential alternatives to current antimicrobials given the global challenge of antimicrobial resistance. We identified a novel bacteriocin from Actinomyces ruminicola with no previously characterized antimicrobial activity. Using publicly available genomic data, we found a highly conserved yet divergent family of previously unidentified homologous peptide sequences within the genus Actinomyces with striking similarity to eukaryotic defensins. These actifensins may provide a potent line of antimicrobial defense/offense, and the machinery to produce them could be used for the design of new antimicrobials given the degeneracy that exists naturally in their structure.

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