Sylvie Lortal, PhD – Microbiology and food science
Research Director at Inra
Sylvie Lortal is a Research Director at Inra. For the past 25 years, she has been carrying out fundamental and applied research on the mechanisms involved in maturing cheese, on the in situ activity of micro-organisms and their enzymes, and on the biodiversity of the technological properties of lactic and propionic yeasts. Her extensive work was recognized with an Award from the American Dairy Science Association in 2011.
During an 8 year period, she was in charge of the UMR Science and Technology of Milk and Eggs at Inra in Rennes (www6.rennes.inra.fr/stlo) and recently co-published the Oxford Companion to Cheese (2016-Oxford univ. press), a unique encyclopedia on cheese. She is passionate about fermented foods and their unique place in the human diet and by the biodiversity of the microbial ecosystems involved. As such, in Rennes in 2006, she founded a Centre for Biological Resources “Useful Bacteria in Food” (CIRM-BIA), a collection of ISO 9001 certified micro-organisms (4000 strains) – member of the National Biobank Network, CRB, where she currently works as a scientific consultant.
Still in the field of microbial collections, she co-ordinated the European Infrastructure Project EMbaRC (FP7 – 2009-2012) for Inra. She is currently a Project Manager at the Inra Microbiology and Food Chain Department. Her key task is to create a European network which will bring about a collective brainstorming on the place and nutritional benefits of fermented food in the European diet. In parallel, she is continuing her research on positive biofilms, naturally occurring in the traditional tools for dairy transformation (wooden cheese dairy troughs, African calabashes, etc...). These systems do, in effect, represent an ex-situ conservation of microbial biodiversity of great technological interest and a simple and sustainable system for seeding.