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Microbial community profiling and biocontrol of storage pathogens on sugarbeets
Environmental and economic reasons motivate focused research on biofuel production. The new research programme MicroDrivE – Microbially Derived Energy, offers a series of MSc projects within bio-preservation, enzymatic pre-treatments, ethanol fermentation, bioprocessing of byproducts, biogas production and fertility effects of bioresidues. The projects are supervised by scientists from the Departments of Microbiology, Molecular Biology, and Chemistry at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU), Uppsala. MicroDrivE cooperates with a number of biotech and bioenergy companies. For information on the other MSc projects use the search function ”Fritext” to search for MicroDrive.
Background and goal
In Sweden, the season during which sugar can be refined from sugarbeets is short, mainly due to problems associated with storage of the beets. Sugarbeets are stored in clamps, i.e. heaps covered with tarpaulin, and when the temperature approaches zero, also with a layer of straw. During harvesting, the top of the beet is removed and the interior is exposed to soil microorganisms. These microorganisms contribute to the deterioration of the sugarbeets and to conversion of sucrose to glucose and fructose. The aim of the current project is to inhibit growth of the spoilage microorganisms using biocontrol to prolong the time during which the sugarbeets can be stored.
This winter, we have collected a number of bacteria, yeast and moulds associated with visible damage on the surface of sugar beets. While the moulds have been identified to the species level, this remains to be done for the bacteria and yeasts. Identification will be done using molecular techniques such as Rep-PCR and 16S/18S rDNA-sequencing, but also traditional techniques like Gram-straining and various biochemical tests.
Thereafter, a selection of yeasts and lactic acid bacteria previously applied in other biocontrol projects, as well as yeasts and bacteria identified from the sugarbeets, will be tested for their ability to inhibit growth of spoilage microorganisms on agarplates. When the harvest season starts, inhibition will also be studied on sugar beets slices.
In parallel, the total microbial community on sugarbeets that have been stored at different temperatures will studied by molecular techniques, such as extraction of total DNA and construction of libraries consisting of cloned 16S/18S rDNA.
We are looking for a student within the microbiology and biotechnology area interested in future technologies for biofuel production and environmental concerns.
For information on the Department of Microbiology, SLU, visit our Web-site: http://www.mikrob.slu.se
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