Research Highlight

Antimicrobial peptide for making germ-free meat, dairy products

doi:10.1038/nindia.2021.109 Published online 16 August 2021

Researchers in Mysore have isolated a novel antimicrobial peptide from a bacterium found in Indian fermented food items1.

The peptide, the researchers say, has been found to inhibit the growth of specific food-borne pathogens that trigger serious infections in humans.

They say the peptide could potentially be used as a food preservative for making germ-free meat, milk, vegetables and fruits.

Currently used commercial antimicrobial peptide nisin is expensive and doesn’t inhibit all the key food-borne pathogens.

To produce a cheaper and effective antimicrobial peptide, the scientists from the Central Food Technological Research Institute in Mysore, India, screened more than a hundred different strains of bacteria found in various fermented food items.

Based on antimicrobial activity against specific food-borne pathogens and gene-sequencing study, they isolated a bacterium known as Bacillus paralicheniformis, which, in nutrient broth, produced bacillus antimicrobial peptide (BAMP). 

The researchers, led by Rajagopal Kammara, found that the BAMP inhibited the growth of food-borne pathogens such as Salmonella typhi, Listeria monocytogenes and Vibrio harveyi. The peptide stopped the proliferation of the pathogens by distorting and eventually rupturing their cells.

The peptide retained its antimicrobial activity even after being exposed to low and high temperatures and varying pH levels. It was also non-toxic to human red blood cells, suggesting that it is safe for use in food items.

Various physiological enzymes and food-grade metal salts couldn’t break it down and disrupt its antimicrobial property. “Next, we want to explore its therapeutic potential in humans,” says Kammara.


References

1. Choyam, S. et alCharacterization of a potent new generation antimicrobial peptide of Bacillus. Front. Microbial. (2021) Doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2021.710741