This project aims to kick-start a bacteriophage strategy to inhibit the growth of specific spoilage bacteria in Norway lobsters, thus reducing rates of spoiling.
The Norway lobster (Nephrops norvegicus) constitutes one of the most valuable fisheries in the UK. However, Norway lobsters, like other shellfish are highly perishable due to rapid post-harvest bacterial growth. Although no comprehensive microbiome spoilage landscape is available, previous work in our group has identified multiple bacteria species that drive lobster spoilage, such as Photobacterium phosphoreum, Pseudomonas sp. and H2S producing Vibrio species. Current methods used to delay spoilage (i.e. modified atmosphere packaging, chilling) are very generic and deliver only moderate shelf-life improvements. Therefore, developing strategies to increase shellfish shelf life are critical to improve efficiency and reduce food waste.
In this project, we propose to kick-start a bacteriophage strategy to inhibit the growth of specific spoilage bacteria in Norway lobsters. Bacteriophages, or simply phages, are naturally occurring biological entities that target bacterial species in a very specific manner. Key advantages of this approach for biopreservation include the fact that phages are safe (ubiquitous and present in many food products), highly species specific, do not change sensory properties of food products and are highly amenable to other food processing techniques.
The objectives of this feasibility study are to investigate the spoilage microbiome of Norway lobsters and to identify potential targets for phage removal. We will screen our existing phage bank for suitable phages and use samples collected in this study to extend our bank of relevant phages.
University of Stirling