Krista Sumby

Dr Krista Sumby

Postdoctoral Researcher

School of Agriculture, Food and Wine

Faculty of Sciences

Eligible to supervise Masters and PhD - email supervisor to discuss availability.


Dr. Krista Sumby is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow, in the ARC Training Centre for Innovative Wine Production, at the University of Adelaide. Her current research is the development of new yeast and bacteria to make more interesting wine.

Traditional winemaking practises rely on un-inoculated fermentations, in which yeast and bacteria naturally present on grapes are responsible for the bioconversion of grape juice to wine. Whilst these ‘wild’ fermentations are becoming increasingly popular (almost 10% of premium Australian wines made this way), they can be fraught in terms of reliability and production of undesirable traits. Therefore, most winemakers rely on a commercial “workhorses” a yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) and a bacteria (Oenococcus oeni), which are added to juice as a pure starter culture. This ensures reliable and timely completion of fermentation. However, some wines made this way are regarded as lacking complexity and characteristic aroma and flavours. The alternative, un-inoculated fermentations, are essentially a “gamble” by winemakers due to their inherent unpredictability. This risk is mitigated by increasing the organoleptic properties of premium wines, adding complexity and mouthfeel.

Most people may notice some varieties taste acidic, but may not know that all wines contain not just ethanol but a low pH (acidic). This is an environment that is difficult for microorganisms to survive in and is why only a limited number of them can contribute to fermentation. Wine conditions are also highly variable and often there is year to year variation in the outcomes of un-inoculated fermentations. The solution to the “gamble” of un-inoculated fermentation is to use different yeast species (non-Saccharomyces) and alternative bacteria (e.g. Lactobacillius sp.) that are present naturally at the start of fermentation but improve their tolerance to these harsh wine conditions.

Dr. Sumby has been awarded various awards, including The Dean's Commendation for Doctoral Thesis Excellence (2013), The Harold Woolhouse Prize for The Best PhD Thesis in The Faculty of Sciences (2013) and the Postgraduate Alumni University Medal (2014).

My background is in microbiology and genetics of wine yeast and lactic acid bacteria (LAB). I am part of the Wine Microbiology group undertaking research into yeast and lactic acid bacteria (LAB) both at a fundamental level and in the context of winemaking. 

Current project:

  • Defining and exploiting the indigenous microflora of grapes
  • Directed evolution of more robust non-Saccharomyces yeast strains for completion of alcoholic fermentation
  • Directed evolution of superior LAB for quicker and more reliable malolactic fermentation

Past projects:

  • Directed evolution of yeast and lactic acid bacteria "Wine Australia funded project"
  • Characterisation of esterase's from lactic acid bacteria and their potential for use in winemaking

Projects involving supervision of HDR students include:

  • Isolation and characterisation of improved lactic acid bacteria strains for optimised malolactic fermentation performance
  • Exploiting the secondary metabolism of lactic acid bacteria
  • Isolation and characterisation of yeast with novel biotechnological properties for use in winemaking
  • Identification and understanding of Saccharomyces and Oenococcus oeni interactions, in co-inoculated fermentations, for development of robust inoculation pairs in wine production

For more information go to;

 

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  • Appointments

    Date Position Institution name
    2018 Postdoctoral Research Fellow, ARC Training Centre for Innovative Wine Production University of Adelaide, Adelaide
    2014 - 2018 Postdoctoral Research Fellow University of Adelaide
    2013 - 2013 Casual Technician, Wine Microbiology and Microbial Biotechnology Laboratory University of Adelaide
    2007 - 2013 Practical demonstrator, Microbiology and Invertebrate Biology II University of Adelaide
    2007 - 2013 Practical demonstrator, Microbiology for Viticulture and Oenology II University of Adelaide
    2001 - 2003 Technical Officer Fonterra Research Centre
    2001 - 2001 Casual Technician Environmental Science and Research Ltd
    2000 - 2001 Practical demonstrator, Biotechnology III University of Canterbury
    2000 - 2001 Practical demonstrator, Microbiology II University of Canterbury
    2000 - 2001 Practical demonstrator, Microbiology III University of Canterbury
  • Awards and Achievements

    Date Type Title Institution Name Country Amount
    2016 Award Best Poster in Oenology-Microbiology 16th AWITC Australia
    2014 Recognition Postgraduate Alumni University Medal University of Adelaide
    2013 Award The Harold Woolhouse Prize for The Best PhD Thesis in The Faculty of Sciences University of Adelaide
    2013 Recognition Dean's Commendation for Doctoral Thesis Excellence University of Adelaide
  • Education

    Date Institution name Country Title
    2007 - 2013 University of Adelaide Australia PhD
    1999 - 2001 University of Canterbury New Zealand MSc (1st Hons Microbiology)
    1996 - 1998 University of Canterbury New Zealand BSc
  • Certifications

    Date Title Institution name Country
    2016 Provide First Aid Course St John Ambulance Australia
  • Research Interests

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  • Current Higher Degree by Research Supervision (University of Adelaide)

    Date Role Research Topic Program Degree Type Student Load Student Name
    2020 Principal Supervisor Defining and Exploiting the Indigenous Microflora of Grapes Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Miss Natalia Soledad Caliani
    2020 Co-Supervisor The influence of sulfur compounds on yeast, bacteria and mixed cultures of these in oenology Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Emily Hocking
    2019 Co-Supervisor Lactic Acid Bacteria as biocatalysts/enzymes for wine making Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Part Time Ms Carla Virdis
    2019 Co-Supervisor Bioprospecting for Lactic Acid Bacteria in Novel Australian Niches Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Scott Allen Oliphant
    2019 Co-Supervisor Isolation and Characterisation of Yeasts with Biotechnological Properties Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Miss Mandy Lin
  • Past Higher Degree by Research Supervision (University of Adelaide)

    Date Role Research Topic Program Degree Type Student Load Student Name
    2016 - 2020 Co-Supervisor Identification and Understanding of Saccharomyces and Oenococcus Interactions in Wine Fermentation Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Miss Louise Joyce Bartle
    2013 - 2017 Co-Supervisor Use of Directed Evolution to Generate Multiple-stress Tolerant Oenococcus oeni for Enhanced Malolactic Fermentation Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Miss Jiao Jiang
  • Other Supervision Activities

    Date Role Research Topic Location Program Supervision Type Student Load Student Name
    2019 - 2019 Principal Supervisor Identification and characterisation of yeast from the vineyard The University of Adelaide Applied Biology Student placement Other Part Time Evdoxia Lagonik
    2018 - 2018 Principal Supervisor Investigating a more reliable system for genetic manipulation in Oenococcus oeni The University of Adelaide Applied Biology Student placement Other Part Time Thu-Nghy Do
    2016 - 2017 Co-Supervisor Developing new starter cultures of lactic acid bacteria for co-inoculation and sequential malolactic fermentation in high alcohol wine The University of Adelaide Master of Viticulture & Oenology Other Full Time Yin Liu
    2016 - 2016 Co-Supervisor Selecting New Malolactic Fermentation Starter Cultures The University of Adelaide Master of Viticulture & Oenology Other Full Time Xingwei Mi
  • Position: Postdoctoral Researcher
  • Phone: 83130402
  • Email: krista.sumby@adelaide.edu.au
  • Fax: 8313 7415
  • Campus: Waite
  • Building: Wine Innovation Central, floor 3
  • Room: 3 28
  • Org Unit: School of Agriculture, Food and Wine

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