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From Gene to Activity - Exploring the Potential of the Nestlé Culture Collection

Providing nutritious, healthy and sustainably produced food is one of the main objectives of food companies such as Nestlé. A culture collection of more than 3000 food grade strains (Nestlé Culture Collection, NCC), has been integrated into an R&D network covering microbiology, fermentation, food processing, nutrition and health, as well as clinical trials. Thanks to this approach and its research and technological capabilities, Nestlé has been able to develop and produce a large range of functional foods containing beneficial microbes.

Today the genomes of almost all NCC strains have been sequenced, assembled and annotated by using the complementary Illumina or Pacific Biosciences sequencing technologies, followed by assembly and annotation pipelines. Web based bioinformatic software enabling the storage and the analysis of the genomes have been implemented. The resulting genome databank allows direct evaluation and exploration of the NCC microbes for the development of fermented foods with enhanced taste and texture, functional benefits, and/or probiotics. The sequenced NCC can also be used to identify and source specific enzymes. In addition, the gene collection enables an easy screen for the presence/absence of undesired metabolic pathways or antibiotic resistance genes.

In this presentation we will illustrate how the newly developed bacterial genomic platform was used to go from gene to activity, bridging between in silicoanalysis and preclinical or proof of concept human trials. Examples relate to the use of lactic acid bacteria to deliver functional molecules or enzymes that could alleviate the consequences of specific food adverse reactions; identification and application of lactic acid bacteria as delivery systems for micro nutrients like iron; the use of specific lactic acid bacterial enzymes for the conversion of sugars into fibers; and the identification of metabolic routes for the production of desired flavor molecules.