Discovering New Natural Food Preservatives from Persimmon Yeast

Jenn Hoskins
7th April, 2024

Discovering New Natural Food Preservatives from Persimmon Yeast

Image Source: Natural Science News, 2024

Key Findings

  • Researchers at Bina Nusantara University found that yeast M. persimmonesis can protect food from spoilage
  • M. persimmonesis produces pulcherrimin, a compound with strong antimicrobial properties
  • The yeast is safe for use, showing no toxicity in zebrafish and human cell line tests
In recent years, the search for natural and environmentally friendly ways to protect our food from spoilage and disease has intensified. One promising avenue of research involves the use of beneficial microorganisms that can outcompete or inhibit harmful pathogens. A team from Bina Nusantara University has made a significant breakthrough in this area, focusing on a yeast strain known as Metschnikowia persimmonesis[1]. This microbe was originally isolated from the calyx of the persimmon fruit in South Korea and was noted for its ability to thrive in various conditions and its potent antimicrobial properties[2]. M. persimmonesis has been shown to produce secondary metabolites—complex organic compounds that are not directly involved in the normal growth, development, or reproduction of an organism. These compounds often have beneficial properties, such as antimicrobial activity, which can be harnessed for pharmaceutical or agricultural applications[3]. Building upon this, the team at Bina Nusantara University explored the potential of M. persimmonesis as a biocontrol agent, a natural substitute for chemical preservatives to protect food from microbial spoilage and extend shelf life. The researchers employed a combination of genomics, transcriptomics, and metabolomics to understand how M. persimmonesis produces these valuable secondary metabolites and to evaluate its effectiveness as a biocontrol agent. Through their study, they identified a specific compound, pulcherrimin, which M. persimmonesis produces in significant quantities. Pulcherrimin is known for its antimicrobial properties and was extracted using a sodium hydroxide solution. The team not only confirmed the chemical structure of pulcherrimin but also quantified its yield, finding that M. persimmonesis produced more pulcherrimin than its relative, Metschnikowia pulcherrima, a yeast known for its similar antimicrobial activities. Further investigation into the genome of M. persimmonesis revealed a treasure trove of genes associated with the production of secondary metabolites, including the PUL gene cluster responsible for pulcherrimin synthesis[4]. By experimenting with different growth media, the researchers discovered that minimal media enriched with iron and a detergent called tween-80 triggered the highest levels of PUL gene expression and, consequently, the highest yield of pulcherrimin. The biocontrol efficacy of M. persimmonesis was tested on persimmon fruits and calyx by assessing the lesion diameter and disease incidence caused by common plant pathogens such as Botrytis cinerea and Fusarium oxysporum. The results were promising, showing that M. persimmonesis could effectively inhibit the growth of these pathogens, thereby protecting the persimmon fruits and calyx from spoilage. Safety is a paramount concern when introducing new biocontrol agents. The research team rigorously tested the toxicity of M. persimmonesis extracts and found no harmful effects on the liver and mitochondria of zebrafish, a common model organism for toxicity studies. Additionally, there was no potential risk of cardiotoxicity in specialized human cell lines known as hERG-HEK293. The implications of these findings are substantial. M. persimmonesis not only has the potential to be a powerful ally in the fight against food spoilage but also represents a safe alternative to chemical preservatives. The research conducted by Bina Nusantara University paves the way for the commercialization of M. persimmonesis as a biocontrol agent, offering a natural solution for preserving food products and potentially reducing the reliance on synthetic chemicals in agriculture and food storage. This study is a testament to the power of exploring and harnessing the capabilities of the natural world for sustainable and health-conscious applications.



Main Study

1) Secondary metabolites and transcriptomic analysis of novel pulcherrimin producer Metschnikowia persimmonesis KIOM G15050: A potent and safe food biocontrol agent.

Published 15th April, 2024 (future Journal edition)

Related Studies

2) Characterization of a novel yeast species Metschnikowia persimmonesis KCTC 12991BP (KIOM G15050 type strain) isolated from a medicinal plant, Korean persimmon calyx (Diospyros kaki Thumb).

3) Yeast metabolic engineering for the production of pharmaceutically important secondary metabolites.

4) The whole-genome sequence of the novel yeast species Metschnikowia persimmonesis isolated from medicinal plant Diospyros kaki Thunb.

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