The Oenological Biotechnology research group was created in 1995 within the Oenology Unit of the Reference Centre of Food Technology (CeRTA). It has been considered by the Catalonian Government as a group of excellence (2005, 2009).
The speciality of the research group is the microbiological control of wine fermentations by means of Molecular Biology techniques. Initially, the main micro organisms studied were yeast and lactic acid bacteria, due their importance in wine production. Alcoholic fermentation is essential and done by yeast and the malolactic fermentation, recommended in some wines and carried out by lactic acid bacteria. For this reason, we have developed rapid and reliable molecular techniques for the identification at species and strain level in yeast and lactic acid bacteria. These tools have been especially useful to make ecological studies and to identify some strains with a great oenological potential. Somee of these strains have been used as commercial starters.
Finally, some rapid techniques have also been developed for the acetic acid bacteria analysis. These microorganisms, that are considered main responsible for some wine spoilage, had been practically ignored, although there is a clear necessity to control them during the vinification. On the other hand, these microorganisms are responsible for the acetification process, which is the main process for the production of vinegar.
Furthermore, in all the cases, the microorganisms have to face an aggressive environment. The group has also focused its research in analyzing the biochemical and physiological mechanisms of the microorganism adaptation to wine making.
Summarizing, the most important results are:
All these studies have been reflected in more than 100 papers in specialized journals and book chapters, over 150 congress communications, more than 30 contracts with enterprises and competitive projects (Autonomic, State and European), and 2 patents.
Moreover, some agreements have been set up with research groups from different countries that have provided different international projects (Spain: Scientific networks; France: Integrated actions and thesis codirections; Tunisia, Chile and Argentina: Integrated actions and AECI; Italy: thesis codirections; Italy, Greece, Switzerland and France: CRAFT European projects).
This research has been complemented with a formative activity that has been reflected 20 defended thesis and some others to be defended shortly. Moreover, this group has been especially active in initiating the Doctorate Program in Oenology, an Interuniversity Doctorate Program (7 universities in Spain), being its coordinator, the responsible of this group. In addition to this, this Doctorate Program has been distinguished with the Quality Mention (2004-2008) and the Excelence Mention (2011-2014).