Fermented Food as Microbial Test System

bacteriaIn a corner nook of Benjamin Wolfe’s fourth floor laboratory at Tufts University sit two grow-lit shelves of baby Napa cabbages, each individual plant enclosed in a clear plastic box that keeps it sterile. When they get a little older, Wolfe’s team will inoculate the leaves with different combinations of bacteria and watch the bugs grow. This spring, similar sterile Cruciferae will be transplanted to one of a handful of garden patches in Massachusetts, New York, and Vermont, from which they will later be harvested, then chopped up and fermented—essentially, turned into sauerkraut—all in the name of science.

Scientists have a lot to learn from sauerkraut, says Wolfe, and from other fermented foods, like kombucha and cheese.

[Read the story at PNAS Front Matter // March 7, 2017]