FEMS Microbiology Letters Poster Prize: Sylviani Hartono

We send our congratulations to Sylviani Hartono, who won the best poster prize at the International Conference on Microbial Food and Feed Ingredients (MiFFi), sponsored by FEMS Microbiology Letters.

The MiFFi conference took place on 19-21 April 2023 in Copenhagen, Denmark. This meeting is associated with a Thematic Issue in FEMS Microbiology Letters in which non-attendees are also welcome to submit. You can find more details about this call here.

Read our interview with Sylviani about her research below:



What is your current position, and what was your scientific journey to get there?

I am currently a PhD candidate at Food Microbiology group in Wageningen University and Research. I am working on a project called “Fight & Flight: improving starter culture production and functionality”. I got my Bachelor degree in Microbiology from Bandung Institute of Technology (Indonesia). Then, I moved to The Netherlands to pursue my master degree in Food Technology at Wageningen University & Research. After obtaining my master degree, I worked at NIZO Food Research joining their Fermentation group for 2 years. So, now that I am doing PhD, it is a coming back to the academia after gaining some experience in the industry.”


Could you describe the research your poster covered?

In this project, I am working on the “Fight” part, aiming to make starter cultures more robust against the end-product inhibition they experienced during starter culture production and further increase the biomass production. Due to lack of knowledge on the mechanism of the inhibition, we chose a top-down approach by using Adaptive Laboratory Evolution(ALE). In this conference, I presented the novel ALE method that we developed, called the stressostat (STress Resistance Evolution in Substrate Surplus). We developed this method because we realized that ALE strategy that focused on improving end-product resistance is lacking. Most method used mainly focused on improving growth rate (sequential batch propagation) or improving substrate affinity (chemostat). The stressostat is a modification of a chemostat. Stressostat applies a constant evolutionary pressure in the presence of substrate surplus. This method is biologically sophisticated as the end-product concentration will increase in situ every time a mutation that improves fitness occurs. We used Lactococcus lactis as our model microorganism for stressostat. After 1 month of evolution (~200 generations), we obtained variants that could grow at increased lactate concentrations, almost double of the wild-type. Moreover, these variants produced more biomass than the wild-type, which can help the starter culture industry to more efficiently produce biomass . In addition, we can also use these variants for food or pharma industry because they are not a GMO. We hope our stressostat can be applied more widely, not just on lactic acid bacteria, but also on any other microorganisms that experience end-product inhibition.”

Dennis Sandris Nielsen, Guest Editor of the MiFFI Thematic Issue (left) and Sylviani Hartono (right)


What do you hope to focus your research on in the future?

For a short-term future, I hope to focus more on discovering the end-product inhibition mechanisms. We now have L. lactis variants collection with improved lactate resistance. We can use these variants to discover the mechanism of inhibition during starter culture production and how the variants became more resistant. This knowledge will help the starter culture industry to modify their production method so that they can have a more efficient and sustainable production. For a long-term future, I hope to keep researching in the field of food and fermentation, whether it will be in academia or with the industry. I think fermentation will have a major role for making a successful and efficient protein transition, which is one of the most important topics for food industry at the moment. I would love to contribute to this transition that will provide people a more sustainable diet.”


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