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TUM researchers develop environmentally friendly process to improve storage stability of probiotics
Date:7/6/2011

rial strains. The TUM researchers first determined the optimal LTVD conditions and then, in a second step, compared the results with conventional freeze-drying.

The results were unexpected: Low Temperature Vacuum Drying resulted partially in a higher survival rate than conventional drying. For instance, the yoghurt strain Lactobacillus bulgaricus, which barely survives freeze-drying, showed a ten times higher yield following LTVD. The new process will allow health-fostering probiotic "candidates" that are too fragile for conventional manufacturing processes to be used in the food industry. Conversely, it turned out that probiotics that handle freeze-drying very well, performed poorly in low temperature vacuum drying. To cut a long story short: The optimal drying process depends on the respective bacterial strain.

Dr. Jrgen Behr and his research team at the TUM Chair of Technical Microbiology focused on the molecular background of this phenomenon. They looked into possible differences between bacterial strains that might explain the disparate behaviour during drying. The secret could be traced back to the bacterial cell membranes, which protect the bacteria from environmental influences. The researchers demonstrated that in probiotics this adaptable "shield" has a different fatty acid composition for every bacterial strain. The researchers can now even control this composition by adjusting the cultivation conditions before the drying process. In an experiment they successfully increased the survival rate of a bacterial strain by about 50% merely by optimizing growth conditions.

The low temperature vacuum drying process is not only the most energy efficient one; it also has a positive influence on storage stability. Compared to probiotics from conventional freeze-drying, probiotics in powder form produced using LTVD keep significantly longer in mueslis or infant formula once the packaging is opened. Thus, more active bacteria remain
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Contact: Jana Bodicky
bodicky@zv.tum.de
49-816-171-5403
Technische Universitaet Muenchen
Source:Eurekalert

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