Finalist of the category:
Outstanding Scientist in Slovakia

Miroslava Kačániová

Microbiology and biotechnology

If products were packed in edible packaging with antimicrobial properties, this would be significant for all mankind.

A world in which food is more durable and packed in edible packaging: thanks to the research of Professor Miroslava Kačániová, we are one step closer. Prof. Ing. Miroslava Kačániová, PhD., works at the Faculty of Horticulture and Landscape Engineering of the Slovak University of Agriculture in Nitra and carries out scientific work at the AgroBioTech research centre. She researches the antimicrobial activities of plant essential oils and medicinal plants against various microorganisms.

The longer you store food, the greater the risk that it may become microbiologically inferior and unsuitable for use. Pathogenic microorganisms such as Escherichia coli, Listeria monocytogenes, Salmonella, and other microorganisms can grow on it and adversely affect human and animal health. Miroslava Kačániová's scientific research focuses on microbiological analysis of food and the antimicrobial activity of natural substances. Together with her team, she examines the ability of plant extracts to suppress the growth of harmful microorganisms. She uses bee products, medicinal plants, and plant essential oils. Thanks to their antimicrobial activity, foods can last longer, fresh and safe.

This discovery started cooperation with the University of Belarus in producing unique edible packaging based on starch and sodium alginate. This can be used for various foods, such as candies, butter, honey, or biscuits."We extend the shelf life of food by using packaging made from materials that do not harm humans. The packaging is essentially food dissolving in the mouth. Therefore, it does not generate any waste," the scientist explains.

Miroslava Kačániová became interested in microbiology during her university studies in Nitra. She observed how probiotics positively affected health and performance in poultry farming. She was fascinated that it was not 'chemicals' that improved animal health but lactic acid bacteria. "Natural substances should certainly not be underestimated in favour of artificial chemicals," says Professor Kačániová. "They deserve more attention and, if they work, they should be developed. Healthy living and environmental protection depend on them." As part of her research, she is constantly trying to broaden the scope of their use. She studies insecticides, substances that naturally repel insects and do not have a destructive effect on flora. Research by her and her colleagues devoted to so-called "drone milk" from drone larvae has revealed probiotic effects and a positive effect on male potency.

Miroslava Kačániová studied zootechnics at the Faculty of Agronomy at the Slovak University of Agriculture in Nitra and then continued her studies at the Department of Microbiology. Today she works at the university’s Faculty of Horticulture and Landscape Engineering. She carries out her research at the AgroBioTech research centre. She has received several awards for her work, including at the Awards for Scientists and Engineers by the Ministry of Education and Higher Education of the Slovak Republic for 2019.

A native of Brezno, she cannot imagine just sitting and relaxing, but instead feels the need to always be active. She does not consider writing scientific articles to be work, but a hobby, which she does in the evenings. During the rest of her free time she goes hiking with her dog.