Functionality and Ecology of Beneficial Microbes (MicroHealth)

Our group was founded in May 2016 with the main aim of studying the ecology, functionality and technological applications of microorganisms beneficial to human health. Our activities in this area have covered: i) The characterisation of dysbiosis (modification of the composition or function) of the human gut microbiota that might be associated with different physiological or pathological states, such as immunological disorders, inflammatory intestinal disease, liver and biliary disease, cancer, food allergies, etc. ii) The isolation and conservation of beneficial intestinal microbes and the functional and technological characterisation of possibly beneficial strains for use as biotherapeutic agents in foods or food supplements. iii) Understanding the mechanisms of interaction between the host and probiotics and pathogenic bacteria, and developing biological models. iv) The functionality of bacterial surface components, such as proteins, peptides and exopolysaccharides etc. v) Mechanisms of resistance to antimicrobial agents in bifidobacteria and lactic acid bacteria. vi) Technological applications of exopolysaccharides for improving the physico-chemical properties of fermented foods (especially dairy products). These activities are directed towards the development of functional foods, based mainly on probiotic bacteria, that can modify the gut microbiota, thereby re-establishing the correct microbial equilibrium and alleviating intestinal problems. The group’s approach is multidisciplinary; it is involved in national and international collaborations with experts in different fields, including immunologists, nutritionists, chemists, information technology specialists, etc.