Global Food

Global Food Ventures renews funding for nine projects

Leaders of the Global Food Ventures initiative in MnDRIVE have renewed funding for nine of the 19 research projects funded in 2014 and awarded funding for six new projects.  The projects include awards to scientists in the university's College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences; College of Veterinary Medicine and School of Public Health.

The renewed projects and their principal investigators are:

Systematic design of an antibiotic alternative to improve performance and gut health in commercial turkeys
The purpose of this commercialization project is to identify efficacious alternatives to antibiotics, specifically those that will mimic effects related to microbiome modulation and performance enhancement in commercial turkeys. Prior to this work, we identified key bacterial biomarker species associated with gut development and overall turkey performance (2). Using this knowledge, MNDRIVE funding from last year supported the identification of specific bacterial strains (from a collection of >1,000 cultured, turkey-source isolates) with the greatest potential to modulate the turkey gut and enhance bird performance. In Year 1 of the proposed renewal project, we will transition towards commercialization. First, optimization using previously identified strain combinations will be performed in terms of reproducibility, delivery method, dose dependency, and timing of inoculation. In Year 2 of the proposed renewal project, pen trials and full-scale field trials will be performed in collaboration with the Minnesota turkey industry to fully realize the most efficacious strain combination and application. We will also partner with Dr. Yiannis Kaznessis to create a portfolio of products aimed at enhanced performance and pathogen reduction in commercial turkeys, and extension of these concepts towards a similar portfolio for the broader poultry industry and other animal species. At the end of this renewal project, a portfolio of products will be developed to support and sustain poultry production in Minnesota and the United States.
Timothy Johnson, CVM

Novel technologies for Ultrasensitive and Rapid Detection of Foodborne Pathogens
Recently the PI's laboratory has developed two detection technologies: a bioresponsive polymer for food packaging and a novel ultrasensitive immunoassay, both designed to offer early detection of foodborne pathogens. The proposed research seeks to optimize these technologies for industrial needs and yield commercially viable products in collaboration with industrial partners. We expect these developments to have significant impact on public health by reducing foodborne disease burden and on the food industry by simplifying microbial detection and preventing food spoilage and recalls.
Abdennour Abbas, CFANS

Waste Not: Closing the Loop on Organics Wastes
The goal of Waste Not is to learn how urban organic wastes (sewage, biosolids, food waste, and urban vegetation, are generated: how they flow through coupled city-farm systems and how these flows can be re-engineered- technically, economically, and politically – to improve sustainability. In Phase 1 (Y1) we quantified sources of organic wastes, analyzed their nutrient content and energy production, studied the social and political landscape, and developed an exceptionally engaged TAG. For Phase II (Y2 and 3) we propose (1) continued analysis of organic waste streams and experiments to optimize the utilization of wastes for energy extraction and swine feed. (2) Life cycle analysis (LCA) and economic analysis of new scenarios for organic waste management, analyzing costs and sustainability metrics (net energy, C emissions, water and P conservation). (3) An analysis of social and political drivers of change: and (4) communication and outreach to translate knowledge to practice.
Lawrence Baker, CFANS

An Integrated Informatics Approach to Sustaining Crop Productivity
This MnDRIVE project serves as a trans-disciplinary research hub drawing upon technical and scientific excellence of the International Science and Technology Practice and Policy (InSTePP) Center, the Stakman-Borlaug Center (SBC) for Sustainable Plant Health, the Minnesota Supercomputing Institute (MSI) and an emerging cluster of public- and private-sector partners. This project will continue to develop, expand and integrate a suite of informatics tools and bio-economic models, employing spatial and temporal socio-economic, biological and climate data. Through discovery, deployment and stewardship of novel plant health technologies, our team will continue to enhance Minnesota's economically-important crops while developing a workforce ensuring future success.
James Bradeen, CFANS

Phytate extraction from ethanol co-products: A new high value revenue stream and potential co-product feeding value enhancement
We have developed a novel process to extract phytate from thin stillage of ethanol plants to produce Ca-phytate. However, several objectives must be completed to commercialize this technology, including: 1) continue evaluating the extraction efficiency of different resins; 2) determine effects of "backset" on phytate production, 3) determine the extent of phytate degradation during fermentation, 4) explore possibilities to minimize phytate degradation without affecting ethanol yield, 5) "scale up" the technology by constructing and testing pilot-scale extraction equipment at Absolute Energy, 7) complete a comprehensive techno-economic analysis, 8) develop a process to convert phytate to inositol, and 9) determine the nutritional effects of inositol phosphate products (IP2-6).

Management and analysis of big data for near real-time detection and early response to food animal health threats
We will contribute to the sustainability of the food animal industry in MN, the country, and globally by augmenting the industry capability for early detection and response to animal health emergencies and threats, making use of large and complex databases, referred to as "big data". We will develop and apply analytical techniques to (1) improve the accuracy of disease surveillance systems, (2) model alternative strategies to control disease, and (3) support the use molecular tools to disease control and surveillance. Results from this project will be shared for implementation with a variety of private and public agencies, groups, and organizations.
Andres Perez, CVM

Validation and deployment of biosecurity technologies and intervention strategies for food and agriculture systems
We will contribute to the sustainability of the food industries in Minnesota, the U.S., and the world by assessing novel biosecurity technologies that will assist in the biocontainment and prevention of infectious diseases in livestock by (1) systematically testing these technologies against pathogens of economic importance in poultry and swine under controlled conditions, and (2) advancing promising technologies to field testing and validation for immediate deployment.
Montse Torremorell, CVM

Profitability and sustainability assessment of Minnesota's rapidly expanding aquaponic food industry
Our needs assessment identified an urgent need to assess Minnesota aquaponic systems to ensure profitable and sustainable operations. To that end, our collaborative group of UMN researchers and aquaponic industry leaders will evaluate two aquaponic systems typical in Minnesota: greenhouse and warehouse. Economic models will be developed with cost and profit inputs based on industry-provided data, controlled research systems, and taste tests and willingness to pay assessments of aquaponic vs. oil based produce. Market research of statewide consumer opinions will also be conducted. Ultimately, this project will provide tools and workforce development to design future profitable and sustainable MN aquaponics businesses.
Nick Phelps, CFANS