Collaboration with University of Leicester and Xyrex Ltd.
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-mortem bacterial growth. Previous work in our group has identified the bacteria species that drive spoilage in this species, mainly Photobacterium phosphoreum and Pseudomonas sp. Current methods used by the seafood industry to delay spoilage (i.e. modified atmosphere packaging, chilling) are very generic and deliver only moderate shelf-life improvements. In contrast, in this project, we will develop a bacteriophage strategy to inhibit the growth of specific spoilage bacteria in Norway lobsters. Therefore, developing strategies to increase shellfish self-life are critical to improve efficiency and reduce food waste. 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 (ubiquitious 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 isolate and identify phages that target the specific spoilage bacteria in a highly perishable and valuable seafood product (langoustines, Norway lobsters) and determine the safety, efficacy and formulation of the isolated phages in-vitro.