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O-48. Analysis of wort sugars using fluorescent biosensors

Presenter: Jasper Akerboom, HHMI, Janelia Farm Research Campus, Ashburn, VA
Coauthors: Jonathan S. Marvin, Benjamin Basanta, and Loren L. Looger, HHMI, Janelia Farm Research Campus, Ashburn, VA; Matthew Hagerman, Lost Rhino Brewing Company, Ashburn, VA

The most routine measurements performed in the brewing industry are gravity measurements of unfermented wort and (fermenting) beer. These measurements give the brewer a value, expressed either as Plato, Brix, or dimensionless (specific gravity). This value is directly related to the percentage of extract per weight of the liquid (mainly the concentration of dissolved carbohydrates) and is an essential parameter to assess the status and potential of the product. However, this value is a sum of several different compounds and does not give insight into the actual composition and concentration of each fermentable sugar in the wort or beer. Worts giving identical gravity readings can differ widely in composition, due to use of different malts, adjuncts, and mashing regimes. Current methods (HPLC, enzymatic assays, biosensors) to determine wort and beer composition are expensive and laborious. Here, we will present a complete set of protein-based fluorescent biosensors to measure wort sugars. Each of these has a high affinity for either glucose, maltose, or maltotriose—the three most abundant carbohydrates in wort. We will describe the design and development of these biosensors in detail and give examples of commercial applications. These sensors give direct accurate insight into wort composition and fermentability potential, are less laborious to use than current HPLC and enzymatic assays, and show great promise for the commercial brewing industry.

Jasper Akerboom received his B.S. degree in molecular sciences from Wageningen University in The Netherlands. During his following M.S. research, he worked for a year at Sheffield University, U.K., on the crystallization and structure determination of proteins involved in glycolysis and gluconeogenesis in the lab of David W. Rice. Afterward, he returned to Wageningen University and joined the lab of John van der Oost in the Department of Microbiology and identified and characterized the gluconeogenic enzyme fructose-1,6- bisphosphatase from the hyperthermophile Pyrococcus furiosus. He stayed with the Department of Microbiology at Wageningen University for his Ph.D. research, where he studied enzymes and structural, binding, and regulatory proteins involved in carbohydrate metabolism in hyperthermophilic life under the supervision of Willem M. de Vos and John van der Oost. After receiving his Ph.D. degree in food science and nutrition in 2007, he joined the lab of Loren L. Looger at Howard Hughes Medical Institute in Ashburn, VA, where he was responsible for the development of fluorescent biosensors for in vivo brain activity detection. Since January 2013, he is also a part-time laboratory manager at Lost Rhino Brewing Company in Ashburn, VA. Jasper has published more than 30 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters.