BOONE, N.C. — Dr. Stephan Sommer, director of Appalachian State University’s fermentation sciences program, received $10,923.00 in funding from the North Carolina Wine and Grape Council — a part of the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services — to study the detection, prevention and cure of biogenic amine and off-flavor producing molds and bacteria in winemaking.
“The increasing consumer demand for organically produced food can be seen as evidence for the importance of health-related aspects,” said Sommer. He continued, stressing that “elevated amounts of biogenic amines in food significantly restrict these expectations, since these molecules are associated with headache, migraine, high blood pressure and certain pseudo-allergic reactions.”
Sommer commented, “The presence of biogenic amines in wine can be especially dangerous due to an inhibition of degrading enzymes in the human body by ethanol.” Therefore, he said, it is essential to establish strategies to prevent the growth of spoilage organisms and consequently the formation of biogenic amines and various off-flavors.
According to Sommer, the aim of the research project is to establish methods that allow wine producers to meet legal limits for biogenic amines, to reduce the risk of potential off-flavor production by spoilage organisms and to optimize the removal of biogenic amines from wine. He said the project should clarify to which degree the growing dynamics of common grape molds like botrytis, penicillium and powdery mildew, as well as the bacteria species Oenococcus, Pediococcus and Lactobacillus, correlate with the formation of biogenic amines and volatile acidity in grapes and fermenting wine.
Sommer commented on the project’s potential, saying, “The development of a molecular diagnosis system associated with a prevention strategy following the principle of spoilage threshold would be a significant step towards long-term marketability of North Carolina wine on a globalized market. This might be especially relevant for Vitis vinifera hybrids and Muscadines — two grapevine species — which could have advantageous properties due to their disease resistance and therefore prove to be a valuable product for the export market.”
About the A.R. Smith Department of Chemistry and Fermentation Sciences
The A.R. Smith Department of Chemistry and Fermentation Sciences offers a Bachelor of Arts in chemistry, a Bachelor of Science in chemistry with eight different concentrations and an interdisciplinary Bachelor of Science degree in fermentation sciences. The department’s programs prepare students to attend graduate and professional schools, as well as for employment in the pharmaceutical and fermentation industries and other business sectors. Learn more at https://chemistry.appstate.edu.
About Appalachian State University
As the premier public undergraduate institution in the Southeast, Appalachian State University prepares students to lead purposeful lives as global citizens who understand and engage their responsibilities in creating a sustainable future for all. The Appalachian Experience promotes a spirit of inclusion that brings people together in inspiring ways to acquire and create knowledge, to grow holistically, to act with passion and determination, and to embrace diversity and difference. Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Appalachian is one of 17 campuses in the University of North Carolina System. Appalachian enrolls nearly 21,000 students, has a low student-to-faculty ratio and offers more than 150 undergraduate and graduate majors.
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