Initiated by food chemist and medical doctor Professor Dr. Dr. Theodor Paul, the Royal Bavarian House established on April 03, 1918, the German Research Center for Food Chemistry. In the same year, Theodor Paul was appointed as Founding Director of the institute.More about Theodor Paul
Scientific work at the German Research Center for Food Chemistry took off in the premises of No. 29 Karlstrasse in Munich-Maxvorstadt (Germany).
In the first meeting of the Board of Trustees, Professor Dr. Dr. Theodor Paul (left) presented his vision on the future research of the institute. His research plans were focused on improving nutritional quality of food and understanding the principles of taste perception of organic acids and sweeteners.
In the remaining twenty years of his career, Professor Dr. Dr. Theodor Paul explored structure-activity relationships of sour tasting organic acids in food and developed technologies for the deacidification of wine. For the first time, he reported on the synergistic sweet taste sensation of the sweeteners dulcin and saccharin.
By means of physico-chemical experiments, Professor Dr. Dr. Theodor Paul, Dr. Richard Dietzel and Dr. Kurt Täufel initiated a paradigm change in taste research. They demonstrated that the sour taste of organic acids depends not exclusively on the acid’s dissociation constant as believed hitherto.
Photo: Deutsche Bunsen-Gesellschaft für physikalische Chemie e. V.
In 1923, the trust foundation assets got lost in course of the infl ation. In the following, the German Research Center for Food Chemistry became associated with the University Laboratory of Applied Chemistry of the Ludwig-Maximilian- University of Munich.
After Professor Dr. Dr. Theodor Paul passed away on September 30, 1928, Professor Dr. Benno Bleyer, Chair of Pharmaceutical and Food Chemistry at the Ludwig-Maximilian-University of Munich, was appointed on April 01, 1929 as the new Director of the institute.More about Benno Bleyer
Under the leadership of Professor Dr. Benno Bleyer, the research activities of the institute were focused on alcoholic fermentation as well as on biochemical and physiological questions on plant- and animal-derived phosphatides, carbohydrates and lipids. For a better understanding of goiter development, he developed new micro-methods for quantitative iodine determination.
Photo: Arkiv for Ringsaker, Hamar, Vang, Stange og Løten, Hedmarksmuseets fotoarkiv, HHB-00185
In the Second World War, heavy airstrikes destroyed the laboratories and almost the entire property of the German Research Center. Professor Dr. Benno Bleyer passed away on November 24, 1945. In 1946, Professor Dr. Siegfried Walter Souci became the Provisional Director of the institute and resumed research activities in makeshift laboratories in Dachau, Nymphenburg and Schwabing.
On July 16, 1947, Professor Dr. Siegfried Walter Souci was appointed as the new Director of the German Research Center for Food Chemistry. Until his retirement in 1968, he worked on food additives and the chemistry of water and balneology (hydrotherapy).More about Siegfried Walter Souci
After the financial shortfalls caused by the Second World War, the funding of the institute regained its financial footing. At first, the Bavarian State Ministry for Education and Culture continued to finance the Research Center. Later, the Administration for Nutrition, Agriculture and Forestry of the United Economic Area and the German Federal Ministry of Nutrition, Agriculture and Forestry ensured the long-term survival of the institute.
The scientists moved into the newly constructed laboratory in the Wenschow Building in Munich-Schwabing.
While the Lower House of the German Parliament discussed the draft to amend the food law, the German magazine DER SPIEGEL interviewed Professor Dr. Siegfried Walter Souci as expert for food additives and the analytical assurance of the food quality.
In collaboration with Professor Dr. Heinrich Kraut and Dr. Walter Fachmann, Professor Dr. Siegfried Walter Souci published the ’Food Composition Table‘ for the first time in May 1962. Until today, the table is continuously updated and extended with new entries. Meanwhile, the food composition table evolved into an international reference. The print and online versions of the Souci-Fachmann- Kraut Composition Tables are available to scientists in academia and industry as well as to the broad public.
On February 01, 1969, food chemist Professor Dr. Hans-Dieter Belitz, Professor for Food Chemistry at the Technical University of Munich was appointed as the new Director of the institute. With his appointment, the personal union of the institute’s Director and a university professor moved from the Ludwig- Maximilian-University of Munich (LMU) to the Technical University of Munich (TUM).
Photo: private/DFAMore about Hans-Dieter Belitz
Under the leadership of Professor Dr. Hans-Dieter Belitz, the research focus of the institute changed with special emphasis on structure-activity relationships of taste molecules and cereal proteins like gluten, which gives wheat flour its specific baking characteristics.
Since January 01, 1977, the Research Center receives funding based on the joint support for research according to Article 91b GG (German Constitutional Law). From this point on, the Research Center has been part of the ’Blue List‘ institutions, from which the Leibniz Association emerged later.
In 1977, the German Research Center for Food Chemistry moved its laboratories from the Munich city center to the new laboratories of the Department of Chemistry, Biology and Geosciences of the Technical University of Munich (TUM). This opened an entirely new scientific horizon and outstanding technical development opportunities for the future research of the institute.
In 1979, Professor Dr. Werner Grosch was the first to show that oxidized fatty acids are responsible for the bitter and burning off-taste of fat-rich seeds such as oats.
The textbook written by Professors Belitz and Grosch was first published in 1982. With Professor Dr. Peter Schieberle as the third co-author, it became the international teaching book for students of food chemistry. It also serves as helpful reference for scientists and technicians in food technology, nutritional science, human and veterinary medicine in academia, industry and food control administration.
Professor Dr. Werner Grosch and Dr. Peter Schieberle developed a new methodology, known as ’gas chromatographic olfactometry‘. This new technology initiated step-change developments in decomplexifying aroma research. By sniffing the carrier gas stream during gaschromatographical separation of complex mixtures of food aromas, they succeeded to selectively locate and identify the odor-active compounds among the vast majority of odorless volatiles.
In 1987, Professor Dr. Werner Grosch and Dr. Peter Schieberle introduced the aroma extract dilution analysis (AEDA). They applied gas chromatography/olfactometry repeatedly to serially diluted food aroma distillates in order to rank the odor molecules detected according to their sensory impact. This enabled the scientists to focus the laborious identification experiments on the most potent key odorants.
In 1987, Dr. Peter Schieberle and Professor Dr. Werner Grosch developed the stable isotope dilution analysis (SIDA) for the exact quantitative determination of key odor molecules. By using synthetic 13C or 2H stable isotope-labeled twin molecules of the food odor compounds as “ideal” internal standards in gas chromatographymass spectrometry, they initiated a technological breakthrough in modern aroma research.
A clever approach enabled Professor Dr. Hans-Dieter Belitz and Dr. Peter Köhler for the first time to map the complex patterns of free cysteine residues and their disulfide bridges in wheat protein molecules. They also succeeded in identifying the sequence segments of gliadins, which through thiol/disulfide exchange are key in developing the gluten network during preparation of wheat doughs.
Professor Dr. Hans-Dieter Belitz and Dr. Peter Köhler made significant contributions to the structure determination of the ’toxic gliadin sequences‘, which may cause celiac disease in genetically susceptible people. Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease, which causes chronic inflammation of the mucous membrane of the small intestine.
Photo: Deutsche Zöliakiegesellschaft e. V.
After Professor Dr. Hans-Dieter Belitz passed away in 1993, the Deputy Director Professor Dr. Werner Grosch took leadership as Acting Director of the institute until 1995.More about Werner Grosch
In 1995, Professor Dr. Peter Schieberle, Professor for Food Chemistry at the Technical University of Munich, was appointed as the new Director of the German Research Center for Food Chemistry. He became a driving force in decoding the complex aroma systems in food and navigated the institute’s research to receive the highest international recognition.More about Peter Schieberle
To isolate volatile aroma fractions from food, scientists around Professor Dr. Peter Schieberle developed the solvent-assisted flavor evaporation technique (SAFE), which is based on a robust all-in-one sublimation system. Thanks to the optimized system dimensions of the SAFE device, they were able to isolate sensible aroma fractions from complex foods while preventing any artifact formation. Today, the SAFE technique has become an established standard procedure in academic and industrial research laboratories all around the globe.
Using a clever combination of headspace/solid phase microextraction (HS-SPME) for rapid aroma isolation and the stable isotope dilution analysis (SIDA) for precise quantitation, Professor Dr. Peter Schieberle and Dr. Martin Steinhaus moved a crucial step closer to the automated quantitative analysis of food aromas.
Professor Dr. Peter Köhler performed micro-baking tests using a worldwide unique automated mini-production line for baked goods to identify polar lipids as the key natural emulsifying agents with a positive influence on the bread texture. These lipids were shown to increase the bread volume by up to 60 %. Among the active emulsifiers are for example phosphatidylcholine, lysophosphatidylcholine, digalactosyl-diglycerides and monogalactosyl-monoglycerides.
Professor Dr. Peter Köhler used structure-activity studies to show and explain the effect of polar lipids on bread baking. One of these polar lipids is phosphatidylcholine. In the risen bread, polar lipids form a layer around the gas bubbles. This stabilizes the air inside the dough and keeps it trapped inside. This produces bread with a large volume and a soft crust.
To better meet the ever-changing scientific challenges in times of key transformations in the food and nutrition sector, the German Research Center for Food Chemistry moved in April 2010 into the former Degussa Building on the Life Science Campus Weihenstephan of the Technical University of Munich. On this campus, food chemistry got the opportunity to expand its scope of action and to complement and enrich the scientific approaches of food engineering, nutritional, biological, plant and animal sciences with additional molecular and analytical technologies.
Photo: M. Steinhaus
By combining various molecular and cellular tests, a team of scientists around Professor Dr. Veronika Somoza and Professor Dr. Thomas Hofmann was able to show for the first time that N-methylpyridinium in roasted coffee inhibits gastric acid secretion in humans. Their results provided a scientific basis for the development of stomach-friendly coffee.
By combining 2-dimensional gas chromatography, time-of-flight mass spectrometry (GC×GC-TOF-MS) and the stable isotope dilution analysis (SIDA) using 13C-labeled (AE) internal standards for each analyte, Professor Dr. Peter Schieberle succeeded for the first time in quantitating a series of key food odorants simultaneously. This method provides the technological foundation for achieving fully automated aroma analyses in the future.
Against past prevailing views, Professor Dr. Peter Schieberle demonstrated that combinations of only ~230 key odorants out of the so far identified 12,000 volatiles make up the almost unlimited variations in food aromas. By means of reconstruction experiments, between two (e.g. Durian) and about 40 odorants (e.g. Cognac) have been found to constitute the typical aroma profile of foods.
In cooperation with researchers of the Technical University of Munich, PD Dr. Dietmar Krautwurst and his colleagues provided the first evidence of odorant and taste receptors in blood immune cells. Since these cells respond chemotactically to the sweetener saccharin as well as the chocolate’s biogenic amine 2-phenylethylamine, odorant and taste receptors do not only play an important role in the nasal and oral cavity but, most likely, also in the control of the cellular immune system.
Figure: Malki, A. et al., Journal of Leukocyte Biology 97, 533-545, 2015, Wiley & Sons Inc., © 2015 Society for Leukocyte Biology
From October 10, 2016 to August 14, 2017, ecotrophologist Professor Dr. Anna Maria Reichlmayr-Lais, Professor at the Technical University of Munich, became Interim Director of the institute until the joint TUM-Leibniz procedure for the appointment of a new permanent Director had been accomplished. Her aim was to link modern life science-based food chemistry tightly with nutrition science and medicine.
Photo: TUMMore about Maria Reichlmayr-Lais
Professor Dr. Thomas Hofmann, Senior Vice President Research & Innovation of the Technical University of Munich and Professor for Food Chemistry and Molecular Sensory Science, was appointed as the new Director of the German Research Center for Food Chemistry on August 15, 2017.More about Thomas Hofmann
After 99 years of success as the German Research Center for Food Chemistry, the institute continued to do research under the new name ’Leibniz-Institute for Food Systems Biology at the Technical University of Munich‘ since September 07, 2017. This initiated a scientific, structural, and strategic re-orientation of the institute to meet the complex scientific challenges along the agriculture -> food -> human‘ axis.
(left to right: Dr. Florian Herrmann MdL, MD Dr. Bernhard Schwab, Minister Ilse Aigner, TUM President Professor Dr. Wolfgang A. Herrmann and Professor Dr. Thomas Hofmann - Photo: StMWi/A. Heddergott)
To study the complex systems of food effector molecules more thoroughly, to understand, predict, and modulate their biological functions in the future, the new Leibniz-Institute comprises a unique research profile at the intersection of food chemistry & biology, technology & chemosensors and bioinformatics & machine learning. With these goals, the institute has grown far beyond its original core discipline of food chemistry and introduces the development of FOOD SYSTEMS BIOLOGY as a new interdisciplinary field of research. The institute comprises a unique research environment in which chemists, biologists, nutritionists, biotechnologists, informaticians, and mathematicians work together in interdisciplinary teams.
Effective approaches to producing sufficient food on a sustainable basis requires a new molecular understanding of functional food ingredients, which goes far beyond the knowledge of individual molecules. The functional profiles of foods, determined by complex systems of effector molecules, have to appeal to the sensory preferences as well as the health and nutritional needs of people. By using a systems biology approach, the institute investigates structure-concentration-function relationships of complex food ingredients starting with alternative raw materials and use of industrial side streams as secondary raw materials, via new process technologies and personalized food products all the way up to the physiological interactions with the human organism.
PD Dr. Dietmar Krautwurst and his colleagues modified cells in such a way that they feature human odorant receptors on their surface. By linking the odorant receptors to a helper protein in a highly targeted way, the sensitivity and signal strength of the odorant receptor assays could be increased by a factor of up to 14 when compared to current state-of-the-art. By having an array of 800 different odorant receptor expressing cells, the institute is in the unique position to capture complex odors as specific receptor barcodes and to digitize entire aroma signatures of food, body and environmental samples. The institute is striving to develop a ‚biomolecular nose‘ with performance capabilities resembling those of humans.
Approximately 8 % of people are odor-blind to the mint-like smelling R-(−)-carvone. However, these same people are able to sense the stereoisomeric S-(+)-carvone, which smells like caraway. How does that happen? Research performed by PD Dr. Dietmar Krautwurst in collaboration with his peers at the Leibniz Institute for Molecular Pharmacology indicates that a mutation in the R-(−) stereoisomerspecific binding site at the OR1A2 odorant receptor is responsible for the insensitivity of some individuals for smelling the minty R-(−)- carvone.
Figure: Springer Customer Service Centre GmbH, Springer Nature, Cell Mol Life Sci 74, 4209-4229, Geithe, C. et al., 2017
Consumers recognize the crossed ear of grain on food packages as symbol for gluten-free food products. These foods may not contain more than 20 mg gluten/kg. As part of an international research team, Dr. Katharina Scherf improved analytical methods as well as reference materials for the reliable quantitation of gluten in wheat, rye and barley. This work contributed significantly to analytically ensure the quality of gluten-free products.
The prevalence of celiac disease is increasing globally. Since gluten is considered the main cause of celiac disease, modern wheat flour has been suggested to potentially contain higher levels of celiac disease-inducing gluten peptides than the older varieties. However, based on the analysis of 57 samples of old and modern wheat varieties from all around the world, Dr. Katharina Scherf was the first to show that there are no significant differences in the content of this 33-mer peptide. Therefore, other not yet known factors have to be taken into account for the increasing prevalence of celiac disease.
Dr. Maik Behrens, who joined the Leibniz-Institute in February 2018, set out to answer this question and showed that both sweeteners do not only stimulate the sweet receptor and their specific bitter receptors but also act as bitter receptor inhibitors of the other sweetener. Inspired by this knowledge and following a systems approach, the Leibniz scientist started initiatives in new taste modulator discovery in complex systems of effector molecules.
Excessive consumption of sodium is a risk factor for developing cardiovascular diseases. Successful salt reduction in food requires new insights into the mechanisms of salt taste perception. For the first time, Professor Dr. Thomas Hofmann and his team found strong evidence that proteolytic processes in saliva play a key role in the fine-tuning of salt taste sensitivity. Saliva samples collected from salt-insensitive persons showed increased endopeptidase inhibitor activity, while salt-sensitive individuals showed an increased endopeptidase activity. After oral endoprotease administration, the scientists observed an intensified salt taste sensation which was paralleled with the formation of the salt taste enhancing tetrapeptide PLWR in saliva.
Photo: istockphoto: ©fotolinchen
For the next three years, the Bavarian Ministry of Economic Affairs, Energy and Technology supports the Leibniz-Institute with the unique investment project. Staffed with a total amount of EUR 16.7M, this ’Task Force – Integrative Food Research 2018 – 2020‘ will catalyze the structural renewal and modernization of the research infrastructure and will give a major boost to the institute’s new focus on Food Systems Biology.
(left to right: Prof. Matthias Kleiner, President of the Leibniz Association, Bavarian State Minister Dr. Florian Herrmann, Prof. Thomas Hofmann, Director of the Leibniz-Institute for Food Systems Biology, Bavaria's Minister of Economic Affairs, Franz Josef Pschierer and TUM's President Wolfgang A. Herrmann during the ceremony - Photo: independent light/Leibniz-LSB@TUM)
To scientifically capitalize on the new research agenda of the Leibniz-Institute, the current limitations in laboratory, office, and seminar space needs to be overcome. With the support of the Bavarian Ministry of Economic Affairs, Energy and Technology, we started to plan a new research building (~3,500 square meters) where interdisciplinary research teams are able to perform top-level food and nutrition research for the benefit of society.
Photo: istockphoto: ©io_nia