MAY 20, 2020 7:30 AM PDT

How a Microbe Can Help Us Tackle Food Waste

WRITTEN BY: Carmen Leitch

Food waste is a major problem. A recent study conducted over seven years concluded that the average American wastes one pound of food every day. Aside from the direct financial loss to the consumer, there is also a huge environmental cost and agricultural toll; the same study found that about seven percent of the cropland in the US and over four trillion gallons of irrigation water is used to generate that wasted food.

New research has shown that bacteria can help us convert the glucose in wasted bread into important compounds like vitamin C (ascorbic acid). It's been estimated that about 12.5 million tons of baked goods like bread and croissants are thrown away every year. While livestock consumes some of this food, a large amount of it poses a problem. Luckily, scientists have found a microbe called Pseudomonas reptilivora that will enjoy all those leftover muffins.

An research team from the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) created methods to encourage P. reptilivora to consume the glucose and convert it to 2-keto-D-gluconic acid (2KGA).

Research chemist Badal Saha of the Bioenergy Research Unit at ARS noted that 2KGA can help generate large amounts of chemicals with many applications in food production and industry, including erythorbic acid (a preservative) and ascorbic acid. The 2KGA chemical is also useful as a precursor to herbicides, a detergent, and a chemical plasticizer.

This microbe can produce 2KGA without needing costly additives, like other bacteria that can perform the same function, added Badal. All  P. reptilivora needs is a slurry made from distilled water, enzymes, and bread waste.

The findings have been reported in Biomass Conversion and Biorefinery.

Once considered a contaminant, P. reptilivora may now help us tackle a food waste problem while generating important substances that can help preserve food and keep it from getting trashed.

Sources: Phys.org via Agricultural Research Service, Biomass Conversion and Biorefinery

About the Author
  • Experienced research scientist and technical expert with authorships on over 30 peer-reviewed publications, traveler to over 70 countries, published photographer and internationally-exhibited painter, volunteer trained in disaster-response, CPR and DV counseling.
You May Also Like
OCT 18, 2020
Cell & Molecular Biology
Small RNA is Connected to Bacterial Pathogenicity
OCT 18, 2020
Small RNA is Connected to Bacterial Pathogenicity
It's thought that as much as half of the global population carries a bacterium called Helicobacter pylori in their stoma ...
OCT 26, 2020
Immunology
Gearing up for Life: The First 7 Days of the Immune System
OCT 26, 2020
Gearing up for Life: The First 7 Days of the Immune System
The mother’s placenta serves as a shield for the developing fetus inside the womb, protecting it from the constant ...
NOV 02, 2020
Microbiology
A Bacterial Virus Can Help Salmonella Spread
NOV 02, 2020
A Bacterial Virus Can Help Salmonella Spread
The Salmonella bacterium is to blame fora lot of foodborne infections, many of which cause only mild illness, though oth ...
NOV 09, 2020
Microbiology
Fighting COVID-19 with Help From Llamas
NOV 09, 2020
Fighting COVID-19 with Help From Llamas
Camelids, which include llamas, alpacas and camels have immune systems that generate two kinds of antibodies when confro ...
NOV 12, 2020
Immunology
The Enzyme That Keeps Viruses In Stealth Mode
NOV 12, 2020
The Enzyme That Keeps Viruses In Stealth Mode
Some viral infections just don’t go away. The hepatitis C virus, for instance, can result in life-long chronic inf ...
NOV 15, 2020
Microbiology
Monitoring a Virus in Real-Time as it Infects a Cell
NOV 15, 2020
Monitoring a Virus in Real-Time as it Infects a Cell
Hubrecht Institute researchers observe a virus as it invades a cell and competes with the host for control of the host c ...
Loading Comments...