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Projects / Programmes source: ARIS

Plasma decontamination of mycotoxins and inactivation of fungi in food industry

Research activity

Code Science Field Subfield
4.03.07  Biotechnical sciences  Plant production  Technology of vegetal origin food 

Code Science Field
T430  Technological sciences  Food and drink technology 

Code Science Field
4.01  Agricultural and Veterinary Sciences  Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries 
Keywords
atmospheric air plasma, fungal inactivation, mycotoxin degradation, identification of degradation mechanisms, toxicity of degradation products
Evaluation (rules)
source: COBISS
Researchers (14)
no. Code Name and surname Research area Role Period No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  20481  Irena Ardalič  Veterinarian medicine  Technical associate  2020 - 2022 
2.  26545  PhD Janja Babič  Veterinarian medicine  Researcher  2020 - 2022  34 
3.  22289  PhD Uroš Cvelbar  Electronic components and technologies  Researcher  2019 - 2022  726 
4.  33330  PhD Gregor Filipič  Electronic components and technologies  Researcher  2019 - 2022  129 
5.  09892  PhD Metka Filipič  Biology  Researcher  2019 - 2022  585 
6.  37471  PhD Nataša Hojnik  Electronic components and technologies  Researcher  2019 - 2021  62 
7.  18592  PhD Breda Jakovac Strajn  Veterinarian medicine  Researcher  2019 - 2022  210 
8.  32159  PhD Martina Modic  Medical sciences  Head  2019 - 2022  164 
9.  54048  PhD Vasyl Shvalya  Electronic components and technologies  Researcher  2020 - 2022  60 
10.  52409  Petra Stražar  Materials science and technology  Researcher  2019 - 2020  21 
11.  32094  PhD Alja Štern  Control and care of the environment  Researcher  2020 - 2022  71 
12.  07811  PhD Gabrijela Tavčar Kalcher  Veterinarian medicine  Researcher  2019 - 2022  152 
13.  25379  Damjan Vengust  Physics  Technical associate  2019 - 2022  216 
14.  20767  PhD Bojana Žegura  Biology  Researcher  2019 - 2022  339 
Organisations (3)
no. Code Research organisation City Registration number No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  0105  National Institute of Biology  Ljubljana  5055784  13,331 
2.  0106  Jožef Stefan Institute  Ljubljana  5051606000  90,028 
3.  0406  University of Ljubljana, Veterinary Faculty  Ljubljana  1627139  10,694 
Abstract
Mycotoxins, the secondary metabolites produced by filamentous fungi, are cytotoxic and mutagenic compounds that are found on over 25 % of the global food and feed crop. Such contamination is extremely difficult to eradicate necessitating that contaminated products be removed from the food chain in order to ensure public safety, efforts that place an enormous burden on food producers. Recent activities by the team at IJS have demonstrated that cold atmospheric pressure plasma (CAP) treatment of mycotoxin contamination provides a step change improvement in decontamination efficacy over competing techniques, suggesting that CAP maybe a breakthrough technology in the global struggle against mycotoxins.   Despite promising initial results, the underpinning mechanisms governing CAP interaction with mycotoxin contamination remain elusive due to the immense complexity of the situation. Without this vital fundamental information CAP technology will not be accepted by industrial users and its true potential will never be realised. To address this complex and multifaceted challenge, this project will apply state of the art diagnostic techniques to uncover the primary degradation pathways and breakdown products resulting from CAP-mycotoxin interaction. No such information is currently available which presents an exciting opportunity to uncover novel science with true global impact. Finally, to ensure the safety of the process, the toxicity of plasma treated mycotoxins will be assessed and the impact of CAP treatment on the underlying food matrix be explored, ultimately demonstrating that CAP is the first safe, effective and reliable decontamination tool in the fight against mycotoxins.
Significance for science
The utility of cold plasma to decontaminate and enhance the safety of the food we eat is proven beyond doubt yet it’s impact on mycotoxin contamination remains unexplored. As already mentioned the aim of the proposed research is to establish, for the first time, a complete picture of the complex interactions between reactive plasma species, mycotoxin molecules and the underlying food matrix. This will include uncovering the plasma mediated degradation pathways, identifying major degradation products, evaluating possible toxic metabolite formation, and identifying any resulting changes to the composition or structure of the food product resulting from the treatment. These efforts will break new ground in the field of low temperature plasma science, yielding significant academic impact. Notably, several recent reports focusing on mycotoxins have appeared in the highest quality international journals, including Nature and ScienceI-III. The outcomes from this project will have enormous scientific merit and it is fully anticipated they will be suitable for publication in the highest quality journals, with Nature chemistry and Nature Biotechnology identified in particular due to their relevance to the proposed work. The project represents a high risk, high reward activity. Success demands that a comprehensive understanding of the complex generation, transport and interaction of chemical species produced in a non-equilibrium plasma be uncovered across four phases of matter. To mitigate against the risks associated with advanced diagnostics we are employing multiple complimentary techniques and to mitigate against risks associated with industry acceptance of the results we are working closely with other partners involved in the proposed project in order to bring a vast amount of experience in assessing food processing technologies and an international reputation for excellence and independence in the agri-tech sector. Beyond scientific quality, the outcomes of the research will have the potential to deliver tangible benefits for the Slovenian and global food industry. The impact of the technology, could it be realised on an industrial scale, is simply enormous; with tangible benefits to the health and wealth of the nation. Before developing the production line, however, we have to solve scientific problems encountered in transferring of the technology from lab to the industry. With the support and advising of Slovenian Food Industry Company (Mlinotest d.d.) that is interested in the potential implementation of the process, we will try to include the major industry relevant challenges already as a part of the basic research with the thought of the upscaling process. Their interest was also confirmed with their support letter – see attachments. IEzzati et al. Nature 559 (2018) IILetouze et al. Nature Comm 8, 1315 (2017) IIIThakare et al. Science Adv. 3, 3 (2017)
Significance for the country
The utility of cold plasma to decontaminate and enhance the safety of the food we eat is proven beyond doubt yet it’s impact on mycotoxin contamination remains unexplored. As already mentioned the aim of the proposed research is to establish, for the first time, a complete picture of the complex interactions between reactive plasma species, mycotoxin molecules and the underlying food matrix. This will include uncovering the plasma mediated degradation pathways, identifying major degradation products, evaluating possible toxic metabolite formation, and identifying any resulting changes to the composition or structure of the food product resulting from the treatment. These efforts will break new ground in the field of low temperature plasma science, yielding significant academic impact. Notably, several recent reports focusing on mycotoxins have appeared in the highest quality international journals, including Nature and ScienceI-III. The outcomes from this project will have enormous scientific merit and it is fully anticipated they will be suitable for publication in the highest quality journals, with Nature chemistry and Nature Biotechnology identified in particular due to their relevance to the proposed work. The project represents a high risk, high reward activity. Success demands that a comprehensive understanding of the complex generation, transport and interaction of chemical species produced in a non-equilibrium plasma be uncovered across four phases of matter. To mitigate against the risks associated with advanced diagnostics we are employing multiple complimentary techniques and to mitigate against risks associated with industry acceptance of the results we are working closely with other partners involved in the proposed project in order to bring a vast amount of experience in assessing food processing technologies and an international reputation for excellence and independence in the agri-tech sector. Beyond scientific quality, the outcomes of the research will have the potential to deliver tangible benefits for the Slovenian and global food industry. The impact of the technology, could it be realised on an industrial scale, is simply enormous; with tangible benefits to the health and wealth of the nation. Before developing the production line, however, we have to solve scientific problems encountered in transferring of the technology from lab to the industry. With the support and advising of Slovenian Food Industry Company (Mlinotest d.d.) that is interested in the potential implementation of the process, we will try to include the major industry relevant challenges already as a part of the basic research with the thought of the upscaling process. Their interest was also confirmed with their support letter – see attachments. IEzzati et al. Nature 559 (2018) IILetouze et al. Nature Comm 8, 1315 (2017) IIIThakare et al. Science Adv. 3, 3 (2017)
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