Ulla Svensson, Ph.D., Arla Foods' manager bioscience and probiotics told NutraIngredients.com that the collaboration will focus on the sequencing of the Lactobacillus casei strain F19 that the company has been working a lot with.
The strain has already been used in a number of clinical studies, and a probiotic cheese containing these bacteria has recently been launched in US. It is present in products in Scandinavia under the name of Cultura.
"By knowing the sequence of Lactobacillus casei F19 this may give us possibilities to extend the use of the probiotic," said Dr. Svensson.
The agreement, expected to run through 2007, will see scientists at Arla Foods use Integrated Genomics' ERGO bioinformatics system to characterise and develop lactic acid bacteria used in a range of dairy-based products, including milk, cheese and butter.
The ERGO database already contains over 1145 genomes at various stages of completion, and is said to go beyond conventional DNA analysis systems by combining "pattern-based analysis with comparative genomics and enables visualisation of genes in the contexts of regulation, gene expression data, phylogeny, chromosomal neighbourhoods and identification of natural gene fusions."
Most of the major European dairy and ingredients groups believe that probiotics, live bacterial strains considered to offer digestive health benefits to consumers, will be one of the dairy sector's major growth drivers over the next few years.
Probiotics remains a major growth market. The European sector is set to more than triple in value over the next few years, according to Frost & Sullivan, to reach $137.9 million (€118.5m) in 2010.
The agreement is not the first and follows last year's announcement by France's Danone of a three-year licence with Integrated Genomics for access to the ERGO database.
A spokesperson from Danone's research centre, the Daniel Carasso Centre, told NutraIngredients.com at the time: "One great feature in ERGO is the ability to quickly identify genes that are unique for a certain species or a group. This makes it possible to get an indication of which genes are responsible for giving each species its distinctive technological and probiotic properties."