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A new line of transversal research to promote the study of the microbiome

At IRTA, we have decided to promote a new “Transversal Activity” on the subject of the Microbiome, which will be coordinated by Dr Marc Viñas. The main goal of the Microbiome Transversal Activity will be to identify and consolidate the existing knowledge and capacities of our institution with regard to the research and knowledge transfer on the microbiome, as well as to improve our visibility and create opportunities in this emerging research field within the agri-food industry.

What is the microbiome?

We understand the microbiome to be the group of micro-organisms and genomes (bacteria, Archaebacteria fungi, protozoa and viruses) which coexist in the form of complex microbial populations and communities and interact with one another, forming a stable part of animals, plants and terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems.

The microbiome is essential to life on Earth and also for upholding various agri-systems. Practically all habitats, including multi-cellular life forms, both animals and plants (endophytes, epiphytes and rhizosphere), host complex and stable microbial communities that make up their microbiome.

Why is it important to study the microbiome?

The importance of the microbiome rests on the fact that it helps keep the functions of the agri-systems and the environment in good health, thus having an influence on human, animal and plant health, ecosystem services, and even climate change, food safety, plant and livestock production or environmental biotechnology processes such as anaerobic digestion, composting or the improvement of the soil and water quality, essential to agri-systems.

The study of the microbiome presents itself in today’s knowledge society as a great opportunity to become part of research fields and innovation such as agriculture, stockbreeding, veterinary sciences, medicine, energy, environmental biotechnology, as well as in the understanding of environmental processes.

This approach will be key to taking on challenges such as reducing the use of antibiotics and pesticides, improving soil productivity or mitigating the generation of greenhouse gases. In short, it will make the transition of current food production systems to healthier, more sustainable models possible.

This informational video from Berkeley Lab very clearly illustrates the importance of the study of the Microbiome