[For further information on the Electronic Forum on Biotechnology in Food and
Agriculture see Forum website.
Note, participants are assumed to be speaking on their own behalf, unless they state otherwise.]
Sent: 21 June 2004 06:28
Subject: 13: Biodiversity of the microbial culture for fermentation using molecular tools
I am Obioha Ezeronye, Associate Professor of Microbiology, Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike, Abia State, Nigeria. I have been involved in fermentation biotechnology research for more than 25 years now. I also teach both basic microbiology and microbial biotechnology courses in my university. I have been two times a benefactor of the UNESCO postdoctoral award in both biotechnology and molecular biology. I have experience in both batch and continuous culture fermentations.
My little contribution to this conference is that whereas our predecessors had done a lot of research work in understanding the biodiversity of microorganisms involved in food fermentation, very few, if any, used modern molecular tools. What they used was physiological tools which are not very reliable. Where to start in improving the food fermentation industry in developing countries, is to be sure of the diversity of organisms involved and their individual roles in the process. When this is done, then we can start thinking of genetic improvement and use of GMO.
Let us talk about this because laboratories in the developing countries need capacity building. We need to equip these scientists.
Dr. O.U. Ezeronye
Department of Biological Sciences,
Michael Okpara University of Agriculture,
P.M.B 7267, Umudike, Umuahia, Abia State
ezeronyeob (at) yahoo.com
Sent: 21 June 2004 06:40
Subject: 14: Re: Traditional fermentation - Burkina Faso - soumbala
I am Olusola Oyewole, a Professor of Food Science and Technology (Food Microbiology and Biotechnology) at the University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, Nigeria. I have been working on African fermented foods for the past twenty years.
Commenting on Message 10 (June 18) by Irene Ouaba:
I am quite impressed by the developments on Soumbala production in Burkina Faso. The selection of Bacillus subtilis starter cultures for the controlled fermentation of African locust bean has improved Soumbala production in Burkina Faso. I need to mention that apart from the development of starter cultures, other efforts had been made in Burkina Faso to improve this traditional product. There has been improvements in traditional processing machineries and packaging of Soumbala in Burkina Faso. These improvements were targetted at small unit productions (not large scales). We can target biotechnology to help improve the fermented products by small scale processors as had been done for Soumbala in Burkina Faso.
Prof. Olusola Oyewole
Department of Food Science and Technology,
University of Agriculture,
Abeokuta. Ogun State.
E-mail : solaoyew (at) hotmail.com ; oyewoleb (at) skannet.com
Mobile : +234-803-335-1814 or +234-804-212-4850
Sent: 21 June 2004 08:35
Subject: 15: Single cell proteins (SCP)
I am Dr. Nand Lal serving as Associate Professor at Deptt. of Life Sciences, CSJM Univ., Kanpur, India. I am engaged in teaching cell biology, genetics, molecular biology and genetic engineering and plant tissue culture courses to M.Sc. students. I have research specialization in plant biotechnology, mainly on in vitro culture of a range of medicinal plants and sugarcane. Recently I got interested in production of amylases from microorganisms and have taken it as a problem for a Ph.D. student. I am interested in biotechnology applications in food processing.
Single cell proteins (SCP) are produced at the industrial level since the first World War when torula yeast (Candida utilis) was produced in Germany and used in soups and sausages. Algae, fungi and bacteria are used for SCP production which finds application as food and feed. The most common and popular source is Spirulina but as far as nutritional status is concerned, Methylophilus methylotrophus (a bacterium) contains very rich amounts of proteins (83%), fats (7%) and ash content (9%). Thus, it is among the richest sources of SCP.
Work on SCP is of lots of interest in the wake of protein deficiency, particularly in the developing countries. SCP can relieve protein deficiency, directly as food supplement or as animal feed to replace currently used protein-rich animal diet. Large scale production of SCP from a range of microorganisms has been established along with its isolation and purification.
I would like to know:
1. What are the approaches used to release large scale living or dead microorganism biomass into the environment after SCP extraction?
2. What are the methods/regulations employed for nutritional and safety evaluations of SCP produced from microorganisms, as most of them contain toxic compounds in the cytoplasm?
Finally, on a different subject: What is malolactic fermentation? How does it differ from other fermentations and what are specific applications?
Dr. Nand Lal
Deptt. of Life Sciences
nl_pr (at) yahoo.co.in
[Single cell protein (SCP) refers to microbial biomass or proteins extracted from there, obtained from processes in which bacteria, yeasts, other fungi or algae are cultivated in large quantities as human or animal protein supplement in animal feed or in human nutrition. Spirulina is a high protein alga...Moderator].
Sent: 21 June 2004 13:42
Subject: 16: Fermented foods in Africa - Kenya
I am Alice Muchugi, a Lecturer in Genetics and Biotechonogy in the Department of Biochemistry of Kenyatta University, Kenya.
Congrats to FAO for initiating this conference for the world to know the diversity of the African culture and others from a different perspective. Being a biotechnologist (though biased towards molecular markers utilisation in plants), I am very much interested in the topic. In my undergraduate biotechnology class, I also touch on food biotechnology. Apart from what I know from our country, I read a lot on fermented foods of Africa (read biotechnology products) in a competition, organised by the Netherlands Government whose contributions are published in "Biotechnology: Building on Farmers Knowledge". (Eds.) Bunders J, Heverkort B and Hiemstra W. I was amazed by the wealth of the subject in various African cultures. My contribution on improved fermented porridge won a second prize. As I have seen from different contributors, the major setback in the development of the area in the Third World is the lack of commercial perspective. For instance, despite having the Masaai community in Kenya making their traditional sour milk for many generations, the fast growing yoghurt industry in Kenya has not tapped this knowledge and come up with starter cultures for their industries. A lot of it is being imported from developed countries. I am therefore urging the researchers in the food industry to explore and develop home grown products from what we have. The other alternative is to link up with developed country partners as, of course, funds are our major limiting factors. I believe the fields highlighted in Message 12 (June 18, by P.S. Janaki Krishna) can really contribute to food security in Africa.
As a start, is anyone out there interested in collaboration in producing starter cultures for the dairy industry? I can link you up with an institute in Kenya teaching dairy technology and currently commercially packaging yoghurt?
PhD Research Fellow
World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF)
PO Box 30677-00100
Tel: +254-20-524000 Ext 4273
Email: a.muchugi (at) cgiar.org
[The 1996 book refered to above (ISBN 0-333-67082-5, published by Macmillan Education Ltd.) is based on papers describing rural biotechnologies which were submitted to an international competition organized by the ETC Foundation/ILEIA Newsletter in 1992. One review of the book (http://www.nuffic.nl/ciran/ikdm/5-3/communications/publicat.html) says it offers "a good introduction for readers who are interested in indigenous knowledge and are new to biotechnology"...Moderator].
Sent: 21 June 2004 14:06
Subject: 17: Starter culture vs natural organisms in fermentation
This is E.M. Muralidharan from India again.
I wrote earlier about some of the traditional food in India involving fermentation (Message 6; June 17, 2004). After reading about starter cultures in the different messages over the past few days, I have a doubt which I hope will be cleared by someone here. All the food that I referred to, involve keeping the batter overnight and ensuring some warmth. No starter cultures or previously used containers are ever required. I presume therefore that only commonly available yeasts or other organisms are involved in the fermention. Or does this mean an ultra clean kitchen with the batter not touched with the hand will yield no results?
How can a starter culture, if required, be made for such a purpose?
Dr. E.M. Muralidharan
Scientist E1, Biotechnology
Kerala Forest Research Institute
Peechi, Thrissur, Kerala State
Email: emmurali (at) kfri.org
[In his previous message (nr. 6), he wrote "In response to Suzanne Wuerthele's posting (Message 2: June 16, 2004), I have to mention here about a few traditional breakfast foods involving fermentation that are prevalent in southern India. There are at least three types that I can think of - the `idli', `dosa' and `appam', all having rice flour as the main ingredient and mixed with either pulse flour (black gram, Phaseolus mungo), palm toddy (fresh or fermented) or a bit of sugar. The batter is fermented overnight and prepared as a pancake or is steam cooked. Now, the fermentation conditions and the precise composition of the batter can make a lot of difference in the quality and taste. Modern housewives sometimes use bakers yeast which leaves a different taste in the preparation. Similar fermented food using pulses can be found in other parts of India too...Moderator].