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Food for the Future: Improving Food Functionality by Probiotics

Producing Engineered Bacteria

Faustina Prima Martha


Biochemical Engineering 2013

Up until today, almost 30% of the world’s population suffers from malnutrition,
including a quarter of all children in developing countries. Indeed, up to 40% of
diarrhea related mortalities are linked to malnutrition, while morbidity rates are also
worryingly high (6-7 occurrences/child/year in developing countries). Diarrheal
disorders can be divided into two broad categories: acute diarrhea, primarily associated
with infections characterized by an abrupt onset and resolution within 14 days.
Probiotic bacteria have been shown to significantly reduce both the frequency
and duration of diarrhea associated both with acute infectious illness and chronic cases
linked to malnutrition. Shornikova et al. demonstrated that consumption of
Lactobacillus reuteri can shorten the course of acute diarrhea in infants from 2.5 to 1.5
days.
Probiotics are commensal organisms that can be harnessed for therapeutic
benefit, usually exerting their effects by positively influencing normal microbe-
microbe and host–microbe interactions. In acute infections probiotics may augment the
protection afforded by commensal flora through competitive interactions, direct
antagonism of pathogens, and/or production of antimicrobial factors. Given the
potential health promoting benefits of probiotics, coupled with the fact that they are
relatively simple and inexpensive to produce, transport and store, these microbes may
represent a new era in health care, particularly for the developing world.
There are new projects coming up which attempt to enhance the health benefits
of edible bacteria. The techniques of synthetic biology to create bacteria that fight
cavities, produce vitamins and treat lactose intolerance, are in process. Synthetic
biology could be used to engineer probiotic lactic acid bacteria used in the production
of dairy products like yogurt, buttermilk and curds, to produce Monellin, a heat and pH
stable protein (Chen et al., 2011, Templeton et al., 2011).
Figure 1. Probiotics form Engineered Microbes

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