Research in our group is focused on basic and strategic aspects of the physiology and molecular biology of Clostridium botulinum. The deadly botulinum neurotoxin formed by this bacterium is responsible for foodborne botulism, a severe and costly disease. We contribute to ensure food safety for future foods, by responding to consumer demand for greater food choice and quality (e.g. more “fresh-like” foods), extending shelf-life, reducing salt, sugar or preservatives, and increased food sustainability (e.g. waste reduction).
We use anaerobic microbiology, various molecular and physiological approaches, imaging and metabolomics to learn about C. botulinum, how it forms its neurotoxin, how spores germinate and single spore/cell heterogeneity. We use whole genome sequencing and associated bioinformatic analysis to study genomic variation.
Our research is helping to ensure microbial food safety in the food chain. We collaborate closely with policy makers and the food industry, for example in the development of novel mildly heated refrigerated foods that are safe as well as appealing to customers.