Staphylococcus aureus is an opportunistic pathogen and the causative agent of a wide range of human diseases. In food industry, S. aureus causes great concern mainly due to the ability to adhere to surfaces and produce biofilms. Once contaminating foods, its growth can result in the production of enterotoxins which is considered the major cause of foodborne poisoning. Yacon (Smallanthus sonchifolius) is a tuberous root plant known for its nutraceutical properties. Different compounds with biological and hypoglycemic effects are present in yacon leaves. Antimicrobial peptides are important components of the natural defense of most living organisms against invading pathogens, which are expressed or induced by an infection. Natural substances, such as antimicrobial peptides extracted from plants, emerge as an alternative to chemicals commonly used by the food industry to control microbial growth and biofilm formation. Another class of natural antimicrobial peptides is the bacteriocins, ribosomally synthesized peptides produced by Bacteria and some Archaea, which can be used on controlling microbial growth in food. This project aim to evaluate the effect of antimicrobial peptides present in extracts from yacon leaves associate to bioengineered variants of the bacteriocin nisin against growth and biofilm formation by S. aureus. Considering the interest on understanding the mechanisms involved in adaptative resistance and expression of virulence factors by this pathogen in the presence of antimicrobial peptides, transciptomics approach using next generation DNA sequencing associated to bioinformatics tools will be performed.
News published in Agência FAPESP Newsletter about the scholarship: