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José M. Bruno-Bárcena

Professor of Microbiology

Coordinator of the Microbial Biotechnology Concentration

Thomas Hall 4554


Dr. Bruno-Barcena is a translational industrial microbiologist with an effective research program, which includes strong collaborative relationships within the biotechnology industry, and a passion for bioprocess workforce training. As example, he has designed cutting-edge process intended for the production and preservation of a probiotic multi-strain cocktail, later commercialized and currently on the market (Bioflora-Biosidus – Arg). Also just before joining NCSU, he implemented a Biotechnological Pilot Plant, facility successfully spun-off to the private sector (ADM Biopolis S.L. – Spain). During the last two decades at NCSU, has contributed to the teaching, training, and the service mission of the university including inter and intra college teaching efforts with interactions at all levels, from undergraduate and graduate students to industry outreach programs including training of professionals and FDA inspectors. His research projects have focused on microbial physiology, exploring bioreactor technology and traditional fermentation processes using renewable carbon sources. The last 25 years he has produced over 38 peer-reviewed publications, edited a book and 6 book chapters, and 8 invention disclosures. 

Research Interests

Industrial Microbiology and Bioprocessing of high-value added products including Microbial Communities, Probiotics, Prebiotics, Enzymes, Chemicals, and Biofuels

There is a critical need for the systematic identification and testing of dynamic community behavior as well as gene modulated states participating in the enhancement of cellular stress resistance of cultures. In our laboratory we use the new era of bioprocessing and genomic tools that make it possible control physiological states and to identify point mutations, insertions, deletions and/or translocations that have occurred in offspring strains following defined selection processes. In the near future, this comparative physiological/genetic approach will provide valuable insights for identifying gene combinations and new biochemical pathways, both playing a role in community microbial cross-feeding metabolism. This information may be applied to further improve microbial production or to understand dysbiosis by using strategic strain combinations and/or strain modifications. Our primary research interests are the genetic and physiological study of Gram positive organisms while investigating different but complementary areas with a focus on functional probiosis and bioenergy. Thus far our bioprocessing research has generated technology, peer-reviewed publications, and intellectual property to be directly implemented and translated into the generation of biofuels and functional foods. We have dedicated significant amounts of time towards implementing these new overlapping bioprocessing research areas that target prime university interests.


I teach several classes at North Carolina State University. These include “Microbial Biotechnology” (MB 455/555) during Spring and MB 420/520 (“Fundamentals of Cell Culture Biotransformations”) during Fall. Both courses are targeted at microbiology majors or non-majors and to graduate students with interest in Biotechnology and Industrial Microbiology.

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Ph.D. Biological Science Tucuman University 1997

B.S. (five years degree) Biological Science Oviedo University 1991

Area(s) of Expertise

Industrial Microbiology of high-value added products including Microbial Communities, Probiotics, Prebiotics, Enzymes, Chemicals, and Biofuels


View all publications 


Date: 10/01/21 - 9/30/26
Amount: $108,850.00
Funding Agencies: Endeavour Fund

Civilisation is defined by our tools –Stone Age, Bronze Age, and today, the Plastic Age. Although humanity benefits greatly from plastic, degradation in landfills can take up to 1,000 years, and in oceans plastics pose a threat to all life. Biodegradable alternatives are too expensive and without any additional benefits compared to petroleum-based plastics, preventing their widespread commercial use. A commercially viable, compostable food-packaging alternative must provide additional properties that justify a higher initial cost to the food processors. The SmartBioplastic program will deliver such a ground-breaking new food-packaging material in a first application study. At the end of the program, we will understand the fundamental processes of biology and material science to create and commercialise a novel SmartBioplastic prototype food-packing film that has been validated to compost naturally, and provide protection against infection with Campylobacter and Clostridium for a range of meat products, thereby extending product shelf-life and reducing a significant threat to our meat export markets. SmartBioplastics will create new market opportunities, revenue and international licensing streams estimated NZD $209M/p.a. for meat and seafood products alone and an environmental impact of NZD $480M/p.a. The research outcomes and technology developed will enable new spin-offs for SmartBioplastics into many new markets, such as agriculture and medical consumables and devices. Our multidisciplinary team unites eminent scientists in microbiology, bacterial fermentation, and polymer- and material sciences to leverage one of NZ’s key strengths, the primary sector, and uses innovation and challenging scientific hypotheses to bring NZ to the forefront of a green plastic revolution which will lead to an increase in export revenues and global leadership.

Date: 01/15/19 - 1/14/20
Amount: $78,557.00
Funding Agencies: Medicago

To advance the study of the nutrients limiting Agrobacterium tumefaciens growth and consistent biomass yields. The population will be initially culture using a medium formulation previously tested containing optimal complex nitrogen source. The goal of this proposed research is to enable the validation of the upstream high cell density process performance. The new environmental conditions will simulate Medicago process operations and the controlled microbial growth conditions will be performed in a 20 Liter reactor Biostat C equipped with sterilization in place (SIP).

Date: 08/15/17 - 8/15/18
Amount: $93,096.00
Funding Agencies: Medicago

The study of the interactions between the microorganism and its environment is usually recognized as microbial physiology. The surrounding environment and the behavior of microorganisms is dictated either by its ecological niche in nature or the conditions under which it is cultivated in the laboratory or in an industrial installation. As the occurrence of microbiological products are also the resultants of the interaction between the microorganisms and its environment, production and microbial physiology are closely related areas of study. Agrobacterium species are quite exigent regarding environmental and growth requirements. Therefore, media of increasing complexity will cause headaches during product separation and product recovery. Conversely the use of simpler formulations creates problems with biomass productivity, and hence cells stability. Therefore, for the control of growth compromises should be made during medium formulations leaving a small role to unknown growth factors present on limiting concentrations on the complex nitrogen sources.

Date: 09/03/12 - 9/02/17
Amount: $692,852.00
Funding Agencies: US Food & Drug Administration

North Carolina State University's Biomanufacturing Training and Education Center (BTEC) in Raleigh, NC proposes to provide a comprehensive biomanufacturing training program to Food and Drug Administration (FDA) investigators under the auspices of the FDA Office of Regulatory Affairs. The goal of the program is to enable investigators to expand the scope of their biopharmaceutical inspections. To accomplish this goal, industry-experienced BTEC staff will design, develop, and deliver a 4-course program covering a range of biopharmaceutical topics. This program will be offered every year for five years. These courses will include Web-based training, classroom instruction and hands-on laboratory experiences at BTEC.

Date: 07/01/12 - 6/30/16
Amount: $1,087,091.00
Funding Agencies: US Dept. of Agriculture (USDA)

Integration of biomass feedstock production, storage and conversion of on-farm has potential to minimize costs associated with the generation of biofuels. Crop cultivation, harvest, transporation and storage practices will be investigated for several grass species for suitablity of use in on-farm microbial conversion systems. Use of biomass residues from anaerobic solid state fermentation processing in gasification will be examined and functional use of produced syngas in the microbial conversion process will be determined.

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