Bioactive Proteins and Peptides
The members of the group are experts in food microbiology, microbial biotechnology of filamentous fungi and yeasts, and in the characterization of bioactive peptides and proteins. Our research is aligned with three main goals, from the more consolidated to the future strategic ones: (1) The identification, characterization of the mechanism of action and biotechnological production of bioactive peptides and proteins, including mainly antimicrobial (antifungal) but also health-promoting peptides and proteins; (2) The development of gene editing and synthetic biology tools to improve the standardized biotechnological use of filamentous fungi; (3) The development of fungi as sustainable and efficient biofactories to produce compounds and proteins of agricultural and food interest. We apply microbiological, biochemical, biotechnological, and molecular genetic techniques together with cellular biology and functional genomic approaches.
- We are studying the so-called antifungal proteins (AFPs) of fungal origin, of which the AfpA from the fungus Penicillium expansum is a promising candidate whose use in food conservation, plant protection and clinic has been patented and is being pursued. We plan to decipher its molecular and cellular mechanism of action and its structure-activity relationships to advance in the design and production of improved sequence variants in fungal biofactories (Projects AFunP and AfunPlus).
- To continue the development of gene editing (i.e., CRISPR/Cas9) and synthetic biology tools (the FungalBraid platform) that are exchangeable among fungi and even with other organisms (i.e., plants) to improve the biotechnological use of filamentous fungi (Projects FunFact and SUSPHIRE).
- To develop filamentous fungi from the genera Aspergillus and Penicillium as safe and sustainable biofactories to produce compounds and proteins (including antifungal proteins) of agricultural and food interest (participation in the H2020 European project Pre-HLB).