CIRCLES kicks-off: From microbiome research to healthier and sustainable foods

Microbes offer an untapped potential and could be the key to a better and healthier living. Yet, research and innovation developments on microbiomes remain scarce. To challenge the state of play, the European Union has made the development of innovative applications on microbiomes a priority. Between 2018 and 2023, the EU is providing four consortia more than €40 million to develop new applications which could enhance the sustainability of our food systems and our health. CIRCLES is one these four projects…

Microbes, microbiota, microbiomes…?

Plants, animals and humans live in a mutually beneficial (symbiotic) relationships with hundreds of billions of microbes. This population of symbiont micro-organisms comprising bacteria, viruses, fungi, single-cell organisms and microbes living in and around living things is called the microbiota. The genetic material present in all these micro-organisms forms the microbiome. In other words, microbiomes are used to deduce the composition and function of the microbiota. Enhancing our understanding of microbiomes and developing new food and feed applications stemming from microbiomes research could be instrumental to reaching sustainable food systems and improving our health.

CIRCLES kicks-off

On 4-5 December 2018, more than 90 delegates from 30 organizations, coming from fourteen European countries, gathered in Bologna, Italy, for the kick-off meeting of CIRCLES.

At this occasion, project partners met with a view to discussing the project objectives and planning its implementation in seven food farming sectors (tomatoes, spinach, poultry, swine, marine fishes, Atlantic salmon, sea breams). The event offered partners the occasion to grasp the ambitions of the European Union on microbiomes research while discussing key aspects of the activities in the seven food sectors such as the development of standardized protocols and sampling procedures.

The project is expected to last until 2023 and receives the strong commitment of its consortium, and a supporting Coordination and Support Action project, MicrobiomeSupport.

Future updates will be shared on the project website as of March 2019 on http://circlesproject.eu. In the meantime, stay tuned via the twitter hashtag #CIRCLESEU.

Marco Candela, the project coordinator based at the University of Bologna, Italy, said: "Our key objective is to develop more sustainable food production system. To achieve this goal, we will exploit the extraordinary probiotic potential of the microbiomes that live in all the ecosystems of our planet such as soil, waters, air, as well as, all complex organisms such as plants, animals and human beings. By means of a rational and concrete actions, food system microbiomes will be optimised for providing future generation with healthier and sustainable foods. Indeed, we strongly believe that the planet's microbiomes represent strategic allies for a sustainable growth to lower the pressures on natural resources with an increasing planet population."

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