Researchers launch PlantProtect against food waste


Bern – Researchers at the Bern University of Applied Sciences have launched the PlantProtect project. They are looking for an alternative for chemical crop protection for vegetables and fruits. A protective bacterial layer could inhibit fungal infections and make fresh food last longer and keep it from being thrown away.

A team of researchers from the Bern University of Applied Sciences has launched PlantProtect with researchers from other institutions to prevent food waste. Using complete genome data, a possible use of lactic acid bacteria and other microorganisms is being investigated with regard to their use as natural crop protection, according to a media release.

The researchers are primarily focusing on the mold Thielaviopsis basicola. An infestation is known as black root rot and can be found in around 170 plant genera worldwide. The chemical substances used for fungal control pose health risks to humans, animals and the environment.

PlantProtect is working on an alternative to synthetic pesticides, antimicrobial compounds and chemical disinfectants. The aim is to develop a protective bacterial layer that renders root rot largely harmless.

The problem, according to the announcement, is that the fungus remains undetected for a long time. The infested vegetables and fruit are only discovered in intermediate storage, on store shelves or in private refrigerators and often end up in the trash. To isolate the beneficial bacterial strains, the researchers use whole genome data to determine the sequence of individual DNA building blocks in the genome. In addition, special properties of the bacteria in terms of their antifungal activity are a subject of the studies, he said. ce/heg