From WikiMD's Food, Medicine & Wellness Encyclopedia

Biopreservation is the process of using natural or controlled microbiota or antimicrobials as a way of preserving food and extending its shelf life. Beneficial bacteria or the fermentation products produced by these bacteria are used in biopreservation to inhibit food spoilage organisms and pathogens. Moreover, biopreservation is applied in the medical field, particularly in the preservation of biological samples such as cells, tissues, and organs, which is crucial for biomedical research, medicine, and transplantation.

Overview[edit | edit source]

Biopreservation involves various techniques and strategies, including fermentation, the addition of salt, sugar, or acids, and the control of temperature, among others. These methods aim to create environments that are inhospitable to harmful microorganisms while promoting the growth of preservative cultures or compounds. In the medical context, biopreservation encompasses methods like cryopreservation, lyophilization, and the use of biobanking facilities for the storage of biological samples under conditions that maintain their viability and functionality.

Techniques in Food Biopreservation[edit | edit source]

  • Fermentation: One of the oldest methods of food preservation, which involves the conversion of carbohydrates to alcohol or organic acids using microorganisms—yeasts or bacteria—under anaerobic conditions.
  • High Salt and Sugar Concentrations: These act as preservatives by creating a hypertonic environment that is inhospitable to most microbial life.
  • Acidification: The addition of natural or synthetic acids to lower the pH of the product, inhibiting the growth of spoilage organisms and pathogens.
  • Temperature Control: Refrigeration and freezing are common methods to slow down or halt the growth of harmful microorganisms.

Medical Biopreservation[edit | edit source]

In the medical field, biopreservation is critical for the storage of cells, blood, tissues, and organs. Techniques include:

  • Cryopreservation: The use of very low temperatures to preserve structurally intact living cells and tissues.
  • Lyophilization (Freeze-drying): A dehydration process typically used to preserve a perishable material or make the material more convenient for transport.
  • Vitrification: A method of cryopreservation involving the solidification of a biological substance in a glass-like state without the formation of ice crystals.

Applications[edit | edit source]

Biopreservation has a wide range of applications in food safety, medical research, and clinical medicine. In the food industry, it helps in extending the shelf life of perishable items, thus reducing waste and improving food safety. In medicine, it is essential for the long-term storage of biological samples for research, the preservation of blood for transfusions, the storage of bone marrow for transplantation, and the preservation of organs for transplantation.

Challenges and Future Directions[edit | edit source]

While biopreservation offers numerous benefits, it also faces challenges such as the need for optimized preservation protocols that can maintain the viability and functionality of cells and tissues over extended periods. Future research in biopreservation is likely to focus on the development of new and improved techniques for both food and medical applications, with an emphasis on enhancing efficiency, reducing costs, and ensuring the safety and quality of preserved materials.


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Contributors: Prab R. Tumpati, MD