International Bioeconomy Forum (IBF) and MicrobiomeSupport
The International Bioeconomy Forum (IBF), in particular the activities of the working group ‘food systems microbiomes’, is supported by the MicrobiomeSupport initiative. The members of the IBF comprise of Canada,the European Commission, New Zealand, United States of America, Argentina, China, India and South Africa. As such, MicrobiomeSupport involves 29 partners from all IBF partners. Within Wageningen University & Research, Wageningen Plant Research, the Laboratory of Microbiology and Corporate Strategy and Accounts are involved in this global initiative.
MicrobiomeSupport received funding from the European Commission to establish:
- an international network of stakeholders;
- identify the current state of microbiome research and innovation activities via a mapping activity;
- develop international research and innovation strategies;
- transfer knowledge about microbiomes and its innovations to several stakeholders.
The Food 2030 strategy aims to drive the transformation towards a sustainable bioeconomy of food production via a food systems approach. A food systems approach considers all elements that are important for food production and how food affect health, well-being and the environment.
More information can be found at this website.
Source: European Commission
What is a microbiome?
'Microbiome' is used differently in different disciplines, which leads to problems when interpreting results. MicrobiomeSupport identified the following definition in a dedicated workshop and published it in a scientific publication:
“A microbiome is defined as a characteristic microbial community occupying a reasonably well defined habitat which has distinct physio-chemical properties. The term thus not only refers to the microorganisms involved but also encompasses their theatre of activity, which results in the formation of specific ecological niches. The microbiome forms a dynamic and interactive micro-ecosystem prone to change in time and scale, is integrated in macro-ecosystems including eukaryotic hosts and here crucial for their functioning and health”.
“The microbiota consists of the assembly of microorganisms belonging to different kingdoms (Prokaryotes [Bacteria, Archaea], Eukaryotes (e.g. Protozoa, Fungi and Algae) while their ‘theatre of activity’ includes microbial structures, metabolites, mobile genetic elements (e.g., transposons, phages and viruses), and relic DNA embedded in the environmental conditions of the habitat”
This definition is an extension of the definition used in the article from Whipps et. al. 1988. The full article about this definition and how the consortium came to this definition can be found in the article: microbiome definition re-visited: old concepts and new challenges.
Microbiomes in Food Systems
Microbiomes occur everywhere around us, including the food system. They play a crucial role in primary production systems, food production and waste streams. Microbiomes in food systems are important for human health and the environment. As such, they contribute to sustainable food production systems.
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A global microbiome biobanks is needed
MicrobiomeSupport partners suggest that a global microbiome biobank is urgently needed as research infrastructure in a recent article. Biobanks of microbiomes are needed to preserve whole microbial communities with their important functions for food production, human health or animal health. In addition, biobanks will underpin research by acting as a microbiome archive. The challenge is, however, to find suitable preservation techniques to preserve both microbiome composition and functions.
Microbiome Ambassador Campaign
In the social media campaign #MicrobiomeAmbassadors, microbiome enthusiasts express their love for microorganisms. This campaign raises the awareness of the potential of microorganisms for a sustainable food production. The microbiome ambassador social media campaign initially started for partners of the consortium MicrobiomeSupport, but has now been extended to anyone interested in microbiomes in the food system.
Information about the social media campaign and how to join the campaign can be found here.