Microbiomes and their cross sector uses
The symbiotic relationship between microorganisms and their hosts allows for huge potential in understanding our world and as a result, providing vital solutions for some of industries’ biggest hurdles. The newly created Microbiome Innovation Network will work towards supporting the Microbiome community in the UK as it works towards innovation and commercialisation.
An example of the potential of microbiomes is its uses in the bio-based industry to produce a wide range of products. To date, most bulk and speciality bio-based products from biorefineries are based on microbial monocultures. Monocultures are optimised for simple processes, so their efficiency is limited in complex situations, e.g. in integrated biorefineries generating several added-value chemicals and ideally using a wide variety of feedstock. In nature, microorganisms do not live and function in isolation: they form complex communities associated with specific habitats (microbiomes). Compared with monocultures, microbial communities possess many appealing and powerful features such as stability, functional robustness and the ability to perform complex tasks. These have inspired rapidly growing interest in industrial microbiomes. There is currently an H2020 challenge, which you can read more about here.
Research is also increasingly paying attention to the importance of interactions between the animal host and microbiota and their effects on the production efficiency, and the health and welfare of animals. These interactions are highly dynamic and influenced not only by genetics, but also by external factors such as environment, nutrition/feeding and management. Recent developments in omics science and technologies have opened new avenues for understanding not only the biology and genetics of animals, but also the ecosystems in which they function and those which they harbour, i.e. microbiomes. This is particularly relevant for micro-organisms that are currently non-culturable. Research on the interplay between the animals and their microbial ecosystems is needed to contribute to the improvement of sustainable livestock production. Read more here to know more about the scope of this activity.
Both the challenges highlighted above are part of the H2020 microbiome cluster of activities.
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