Bioactive Proteins and Peptides

Food Biotechnology

Bioactive Proteins and Peptides


Over the last years there has been a massive increase in the identification of short bioactive peptides and proteins with a wide variety of biologically useful activities, which reflects the huge chemical diversity of these molecules. Examples of these bioactive peptides include those with antibiotic, antioxidant, antihypertensive, anticancer, or immunomodulatory activities, with numerous mainly medical but also food and agricultural applications. In this context the main objective of the research team is the identification, rational design and production of small peptides and proteins with health promoting properties and antimicrobial activities, as well as the detailed study of their mechanism of action. To achieve this goal, we apply microbiological, biochemical, biotechnological, and molecular genetic techniques together with cellular biology and functional genomic approaches.


Specific objectives include:

  • Identification, rational design and characterization of health-promoting peptides able to reduce the risk of chronic complications or age-related diseases, such as peptides with blood pressure-lowering effects or those related to neurodegenerative disorders.
  • Characterization of food proteins as source of bioactive peptides.
  • Study of non-conventional yeast enzyme activities for the production of bioactive peptides.
  • Identification, design and characterization of small peptides with antimicrobial (against food spoilage microorganisms) and antifungal (against phytopathogenic and fruit postharvest pathogenic fungi) properties as control alternatives in food preservation and in postharvest/crop protection.
  • Development of cost-effective biotechnological systems for the production of bioactive peptides and proteins with applications in crop and postharvest protection, medicine and food conservation.
  • Identification and biotechnological production of fungal antifungal proteins (AFPs) from filamentous fungi. Characterization of their biological function and antimicrobial mechanism through cell biology and molecular genetics approaches.
  • Structure-Activity Relationship between amino acid sequence/structure of bioactive proteins and peptides and their biological function.
  • Study the mechanism of action of peptides and proteins by using genomic approaches and different experimental models (Saccharomyces cerevisiae and human cell lines).
  • Genetic transformation of filamentous fungi and development of new transformation systems.
  • Development of Synthetic Biology tools for the biotechnological exploitation of filamentous fungi.

Research staff