Functional Dairy Cultures

The Functional Milk Cultures Group follows two lines of research that have a common aim and that involve the same methodology.

1. Microbial typing of traditional cheeses and the design of starters
This is the traditional research line of the group. Over the years we have participated in the characterisation and typing of microbes in the traditional cheeses of Asturias, such as Peñamellera, Cabrales and Casín. The aim of this work is the identification and selection of strains with good technological properties for use in the design of starter cultures for these cheeses, and which may also be useful to the dairy industry in general.  We have developed a specific starter for use in making Cabrales (CAB-00), now produced by Biogés Starters S.A. at the request of the Consejo Regulador del Queso de Cabrales (the Cabrales Cheese Regulatory Council). It has now been used for several years.  Several acidifying strains of Lactococcus lactis have also been delivered to companies such as Christian Hansen.

2. Microbiology of the human gastrointestinal tract and the selection of probiotics
In recent years we have collaborated in the characterisation of microbes from the human stomach and intestine.  This has allowed us to select strains for probiotics either more robust or more specific than those currently available.  The most interesting of these have been protected by patents and transferred to biotechnology companies such as Biogés Starters S.A. and  Biópolis S.L.

The identification and characterisation of lactic acid bacteria and bifidobacteria for their use as fermentation agents and/or probiotics involves the study of their physiology and genetics.  We have been involved in the characterisation of plasmids, which have also  been developed into cloning and expression vectors, allowing for molecular and genetic manipulation studies.