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Global Sourdough Project with Dr. Erin McKenney

Why do specific microbes end up in a particular starter, and which volatile compounds are produced by different microbial communities? This presentation will link results from the Global Sourdough Project, to starter and bread attributes. It will involve a sensory hands-on component, where participants smell different starters whose microbes have been sequenced. Attendees are welcome to bring their own starters, smell them, and predict which microbes likely live in their starter (based on the sensory evaluation and our global project results).

Dr. Erin McKenney studies how microbial communities form over time and how they adapt to their environments. Over the past 8 years she has collected fecal samples from over 140 animals belonging to 15 species housed at 4 different zoos, to investigate the effects of host diet and lineage. More recently, she has expanded her research to sourdough and other fermented foods. Microbial cultures lie at the heart of human cultures, and fermented foods provide accessible systems for studying microbiology and nutrition without formal laboratory equipment. By combining citizen science and global collaborations, Erin brings research into the classroom to empower students of all ages.

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Photo by Lauren Nichols

Photo by Lauren Nichols