Busting Beerstone with FRC and OXC
Beerstone, also known as Calcium Oxalate is formed on the insides of brewing machinery such as beer vats, aging tanks, and kegs. These Calcium Oxalate deposits provide protection and nutrients for bacteria to grow due to their porous nature, allowing unwanted bacterial growth and the formation of biofilms. Beerstone poses a major problem to the brewing industry as it is difficult to remove without the use of corrosive acid or alkaline cleaners.
Our project goal is to develop a safe, enzymatic cleaning method for the removal of beerstone, using enzymes from the oxalate degrading human gut bacteria Oxalobacter formigenes. This year our preliminary project focuses on the cloning of the two enzymes; Formyl Coenzyme A Transferase (FRC), and Oxalyl-Coenzyme A Decarboxylase (OXC) from O. formigenes. These enzymes are used in O. formigenes's oxalate degrading metabolic pathway, and our team hopes to use them to break down Calcium Oxalate deposits in brewing equipment.
Our future projects will build upon this research as we characterize FRC and OXC activity, design a cleaning solution, test our project on beerstone, and potentially extend our research into the medical field.