The food of the future? It will come from bacterial ecosystems
The secret of the food of the future lies in microbiomes, the communities of microorganisms that colonize every possible ecological niche on the planet. By exploiting the potential of these ecosystems, in fact, it is possible to produce higher quality food, improving the productivity, safety and sustainability of food supply chains.
The promotion of this revolutionary approach to food production is the objective of CIRCLES-Controlling mIcRobiomes CircuLations for bEtter food Systems, the new EU project funded with 10 million euro by Horizon 2020 and coordinated by the University of Bologna. The CIRCLES project involves 30 partners from 14 European countries, including leading research institutes in the fields of microbiology, genetics and environmental sciences, along with leading food production companies such as Aia, Orogel, Eurovix, DSM Nutritional Products, and Bolton Alimentari.
This collective effort, coordinated by the University of Bologna, aims to encourage the creation of new Smart Microbiome Food Products, sustainable foods based on vegetables, meat and fish, produced within food systems with optimized animal and plant microbiomes to produce safe and nutritious food products while reducing the environmental impact.
One of the most promising ways to achieve this result is through the metabolic potential of microbiomes, the large communities of bacteria, viruses and fungi that colonize environments, plants and animals. “We live in a world that is primarily populated, in numerical terms, by bacteria”, explained Marco Candela, Professor at the University of Bologna, project coordinator. “For this reason it is important to know them and live with them, so that we can also use their abilities to improve global health and promote a sustainable economy”.
During the project, which will run for five years, innovative solutions for vegetable production, intensive farming, aquaculture and fishing will be tested through the optimization of microbiome composition. “All food products will be certified also thanks to an innovative labelling system that will guarantee transparency on the quality of the production process”, added Marco Candela. “These Smart Microbiome Food Systems will be the final result that CIRCLES will offer to the Europe of tomorrow. An important challenge that will allow us to take a step forward towards a safer and more sustainable food economy”.