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A genomics toolbox to enhance business for SMEs in the market of starter cultures and probiotics (GENOBOX)
Date du début: 1 sept. 2013, Date de fin: 31 août 2015 PROJET  TERMINÉ 

Fermented food (e.g. cheese, yoghurt, bread, wine) constitute a large part of our diet. They are converted from a substrate (milk, fruits, cereals) by the action of micro-organisms (yeast or lactic acid bacteria). When such starter cultures also exert a health benefit (eg. prevention of diarrhea) they are known as probiotic strains. Throughout the EU starters and probiotic strains are mainly supplied by SMEs to end-users for application in food products.The SMEs compete with a few large companies providing such cultures. The competitive edge of SMEs is at risk in part due to stricter safety rules to be imposed by EFSA. EFSA will demand full genome characterisation to exclude presence of sequences posing a potential health risk (such as virulence factors, antibiotic resistance and toxins) and to allow traceability of distinct strains as proprietary strains are unique. Genome analyses and bio-informatics are not the current core of SMEs in this consortium as they have focus on primarily cost effectiveness.GENOBOX exploits the strength of four SME starter culture companies and probiotic producers in this sector combined with skills and expertise of two renowned RTD performers. The RTD performers will sequence and analyse 48 bacterial strains provided by SMEs and coming from culture collections. A genomics toolbox will be created, allowing every SME to exclusively study the detailed results on their own strains while benefitting from results of the collective. The SMEs will perform in-house experiments and demonstrations to validate the results of the project for optimised production yields. Also workshops will be organised by the RTD performers to develop data-exploitation strategies for the SMEs involved.During this project the SMEs will be able to abide to EFSA ruling, enable to patent their strains for specific purposes, exploit strain functionalities and health benefits and maximise their production yields by optimising strain survival during processing.



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