Projects / Programmes source: ARIS

Self-assembled and advanced biopolymer coatings for microencapsulation of probiotics and starter cultures

Research activity

Code Science Field Subfield
4.03.00  Biotechnical sciences  Plant production   

Code Science Field
4.01  Agricultural and Veterinary Sciences  Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries 
microbial microencapsulation; carrier design; biopolymers; self assembly; augmented fermentation; targeted delivery; product inhibition resistance
Evaluation (rules)
source: COBISS
Researchers (26)
no. Code Name and surname Research area Role Period No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  28299  PhD Martina Avbelj  Biotechnology  Researcher  2022 - 2023  70 
2.  39095  PhD Miha Bahun  Biochemistry and molecular biology  Researcher  2020 - 2023  40 
3.  11150  PhD Bojana Bogovič Matijašić  Animal production  Researcher  2020 - 2023  385 
4.  51167  Doris Bračič  Textile and leather  Researcher  2020 - 2022  22 
5.  24407  PhD Iztok Dogša  Biotechnology  Researcher  2020 - 2023  188 
6.  52167  PhD Andi Erega  Biotechnology  Researcher  2021  27 
7.  19753  PhD Lidija Fras Zemljič  Textile and leather  Researcher  2020 - 2023  518 
8.  25788  PhD Boštjan Genorio  Materials science and technology  Researcher  2020 - 2023  309 
9.  52407  Špela Gruden  Biochemistry and molecular biology  Researcher  2022 - 2023  10 
10.  18511  PhD Polona Jamnik  Biotechnology  Researcher  2020 - 2023  900 
11.  56432  Terezija Jovanovski  Biotechnology  Researcher  2022 - 2023 
12.  17916  PhD Iztok Jože Košir  Chemistry  Researcher  2020 - 2023  528 
13.  24332  PhD Manja Kurečič  Materials science and technology  Researcher  2020 - 2023  227 
14.  38177  PhD Jaka Levanič  Forestry, wood and paper technology  Researcher  2021  30 
15.  25516  PhD Petra Mohar Lorbeg  Animal production  Researcher  2020 - 2023  114 
16.  37419  PhD Miha Ocvirk  Plant production  Researcher  2020 - 2023  158 
17.  29336  PhD Ilja Gasan Osojnik Črnivec  Chemistry  Head  2020 - 2023  232 
18.  36376  PhD Diana Paveljšek  Animal production  Researcher  2020 - 2023  36 
19.  19268  PhD Zdenka Peršin Fratnik  Materials science and technology  Researcher  2022  225 
20.  50561  PhD Nejc Petek  Chemistry  Researcher  2022 - 2023  47 
21.  35476  PhD Olivija Plohl  Textile and leather  Researcher  2020 - 2023  102 
22.  10873  PhD Nataša Poklar Ulrih  Chemistry  Researcher  2020 - 2023  819 
23.  23417  PhD Iztok Prislan  Chemistry  Researcher  2020 - 2023  200 
24.  53547  Ksenija Rutnik  Chemistry  Junior researcher  2020 - 2023  22 
25.  15466  PhD Mihaela Skrt  Biotechnology  Researcher  2020 - 2023  154 
26.  51227  Luka Šturm  Biochemistry and molecular biology  Researcher  2020 - 2023  46 
Organisations (4)
no. Code Research organisation City Registration number No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  0103  University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Chemistry and Chemical Technology  Ljubljana  1626990  23,035 
2.  0416  Slovenian Institute of Hop Research and Brewing  Žalec  5051762000  4,123 
3.  0481  University of Ljubljana, Biotechnical Faculty  Ljubljana  1626914  65,737 
4.  0795  University ob Maribor, Faculty of mechanical engineering  Maribor  5089638010  24,053 
Microencapsulation involves coating or entrapping of a core material with a polymeric material to generate microspheres, microcapsules or micro aggregates in the size range of 1–1000 µm. This versatile technology has been used to encapsulate a wide array of products such as pharmaceuticals, flavours, volatile oils, plant extracts, enzymes and other functional compounds. In recent decades, this technology has also been applied to the area of microbial cell immobilization owing to its numerous advantages over other cell immobilization techniques. Due to the abundance of natural biopolymers of diverse surface and colloidal properties, as well as the ability to study their interactions at the molecular level, numerous opportunities are offered for dedicated development of advanced delivery systems for encapsulation of microorganisms, especially for biotechnological food processes and in development of probiotics intended for ingestion. The purpose of encapsulation of cells is strongly dependent on its intended end-use. For encapsulation of starter cultures used in various fermentation processes, the goal is to shorten the period of adaptation in the slurry, achieve high cell density within the carrier, improve the kinetics of the process, reduce the possibility of microbial contamination and allow for easier separation and reuse of biomass for the next batch. For the case of probiotics which are intended for ingestion, the objectives of encapsulation are different as the carrier provides protection during storage and digestion, as well as in more advanced applications acting as a delivery system to reach target parts of the digestive tract or other tissues. In the field of material science, a number of properties have been shown to provide the basis for linking of biopolymers and related molecules as natural building blocks to provide either hollow, or porous and non-porous structures with varying degrees of internal and external organization thus indicating a part of their encapsulating potential. In particular, polymers, such as structural components of the cell wall of plants (pectin) or algae (alginate) or starch and its derivatives offer numerous possibilities for the preparation of materials with controlled size, morphology, surface and structural properties. Our project will be based on thorough characterization of the respective natural substances (mostly plant derived polysaccharides and other plant-based components), and their use as building blocks for self-assembly or targeted organization. The acquired supramolecular structures will serve as stand-alone encapsulants, as well as dedicated structural templates for a wide variety of microbial encapsulation approaches in order to suit to products, which are intended for ingestion and / or for contact with foodstuffs. The selected carriers will be used for two markedly different end-use applications, i.e. (i) for encapsulation of yeasts for optimized ethanol production, (ii) and to improve gut retention and act as a prebiotic for our own isolates of lactobacillus probiotics. In both cases, we will determine the encapsulation efficiency parameters, the level of supported and sustained microbial activity, as well as at the cellular level, the capability of the encapsulation system for fermentation or targeted delivery of microorganisms. The research project will set out to reach beyond the established alginate hydrogel systems using plant derived materials with more precisely defined surface characteristics in order to study the overlying physical, chemical and biological mechanisms that govern the efficiency of the microencapsulation process. We will employ and extend recent advances in the field of material science in order to generate in depth knowledge to allow for the design of food safe encapsulation carriers, perform through characterisation and material screening, as well as assess the suitability of such microencapsulated biomass for tacking current specific field i
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