Bringing molecular methods to bear on food safety
Molecular biology and food microbiology have not always been comfortable bedfellows but that needs to change, and quickly. We all understand the role of molecular biology in unravelling virulence mechanism of microbial pathogens, or in dissecting the host response. The role of molecular methods in pathogen detection and in molecular epidemiology has also been widely appreciated and accepted. However, the idea of genetically manipulating food-related organisms destined for the supermarket shelves has been more controversial. There are many GM plants grown worldwide, and many ingredients derived from these find their way into our diet, but this has not always resonated with consumers. What about manipulating bacteria used in the production of fermented foods, or using genetically modified bacteria to produce food ingredients. Is this an idea whose time has arrived? I will present some examples from our own laboratory where we have used molecular techniques to produce improved food ingredients and additives to improve food safety and animal welfare.
Colin Hill has a Ph.D in molecular microbiology and is a Professor of Microbial Food Safety in the School of Microbiology at University College Cork, Ireland. He is also a founding Principal Investigator in APC Microbiome Ireland, a large research centre devoted to the study of the role of the gut microbiota in health and disease. His main interests lie in the role of the microbiome in human and animal health. He is particularly interested in the effects of probiotics, bacteriocins, and bacteriophage. In 2005 Prof. Hill was awarded a D.Sc by the National University of Ireland in recognition of his contributions to research. In 2009 he was elected to the Royal Irish Academy and in 2010 he received the Metchnikoff Prize in Microbiology and was elected to the American Academy of Microbiology. He has published more than 650 papers and holds 25 patents. He was president of ISAPP from 2012-2015. More than 80 PhD students have been trained in his laboratory.