TRIBIOME: Advanced tools for integration and synergistic inTeRconnectIon of microBIOMEs in resilient food systems
The TRIBIOME project will study the soil and plant microbiome for modelling to further research into new tools for modulating and improving crop yields and improving agricultural production leading to advanced, improved and more nutritious food.
Modern agriculture faces several challenges to ensure a fair, healthy and environmentally friendly food system due to the ever-increasing population, which is expected to reach 10.4 billion people by 2100 according to the UN (World Population Prospects 2022).
In the last 50 years, the total area of cultivated land worldwide has increased by more than 500% and the use of fertilisers has grown by 700%, while the use of pesticides has multiplied (Keystone taxa as drivers of microbiome structure and functioning, 2018). However, these figures are neither sustainable from a supply chain nor an environmental point of view.
Against this background, the European Farm to Fork strategy aims to accelerate the transition to a sustainable food system with zero environmental impact. In addition, the European Commission’s ‘Food 2030 – Future proofing our food systems through research and innovation’ provides a framework for making food systems resilient, ensuring that they ensure that everyone has access to affordable and healthy food.
Microbiomes (microorganisms and their genetic material) play a crucial role in sustaining life on Earth. Thus, while soil microbiomes fix nitrogen and methane enabling fertilisation, the human gut microbiome is related to health. Similarly, the microbiomes of plants and animals play an important role in their health.
The growing understanding of the interconnectedness of microbiomes in environmental and food systems suggests that innovations in the microbiome can improve the sustainable production of food, feed and biofuels, while underpinning the principles of circularity.
Summary and objectives
The TRIBIOME project will focus on the study of microbiomes (microorganisms and their genetic material) in soil and plants with the aim of facilitating the research of new tools to improve wheat crop yields and future production of advanced and more nutritious food.
TRIBIOME will focus on microbiomes (micro-organisms and their genetic material) related to agricultural production, looking in depth at their variability in Spain, Italy and South Africa. In particular, it will analyse their interactions and variation in abiotic and biotic stress situations, as well as the implementation of bioaugmentation technologies to improve resistance to fungal infections and biofortification in micronutrients related to their impact on human and animal health.
- By understanding the fluctuations and variability of the soil microbiome, three strategies will be developed to obtain improved foods through:
- Analysis and assessment of microbiome fluctuations under abiotic stress conditions (drought and nutrient deficiency) to understand which microbial agents act protectively on the plant.
- Biofortification strategies according to an assessment of microbial species capable of increasing bioavailability for plant uptake of micronutrients.
- The reduction of mycotoxin content under post-harvest conditions, ensuring food safety through the use of biocontrol agents, which exert a protective action on the plant against certain fungal infections.
The main objectives of the project are:
- To address an innovative multi-stakeholder approach to boost agri-food sustainability.
- Modelling microbiomes to drive their dynamics in the soil to improve the quality and productivity of wheat crops.
- Ensure circularity and adaptation to climate change through valorisation processes.
- Demonstrate and validate newly developed microbiome tools.
- Establish a robust and reliable interconnection between plant, animal and human microbiomes contributing to healthy and sustainable nutrition.
The consortium brings together 13 partners, including 3 research centres, 3 universities, 5 SMEs and 2 associations.
- INSTITUTO TECNÓLOGICO DEL EMBALAJE, TRANSPORTE Y LOGÍSTICA (ITENE) (Coordinator) (Spain).
- ALMA MATER STUDIORUM – UNIVERSITA DI BOLOGNA (Italy).
- AGENCIA ESTATAL CONSEJO SUPERIOR DE INVESTIGACIONES CIENTÍFICAS (Spain).
- LUONNONVARAKESKUS (Finland).
- UNIVERSIDAD DE BURGOS (Spain).
- UNIVERSITY OF PRETORIA (South Africa).
- ETE SEMI RURALI (Italy).
- ASOCIACIÓN AGRARIA DE JÓVENES AGRICULTORES (Spain).
- VALGENETICS SOCIEDAD LIMITADA (Spain).
- WAGRALIM (Belgium).
- SOFTWARE IMAGINATION & VISION SRL (Romania).
- PARTICULA GROUP DRUSTVO S OGRANICENOM ODGOVORNOSCU ZA ISTRAZIVANJE RAZVOJ I PROIZVODNJU (Croatia).
- FERTIBERIA SA (Spain).
ITENE will coordinate the TRIBIOME project and will lead the tasks related to circularity and sustainability practices. In this framework, it will be involved in the isolation of specific microorganisms as wheat modulators, the evaluation and selection of specific modulators, the development of effective processes to obtain modulators and their combination with fertilisers.
In addition, it will determine the quality of micro-organisms obtained as wheat crop modulators and bring together best practices for sustainable production systems.
The research centre will also participate in soil microbiome sampling and modelling tasks and in those addressing crop performance in the face of microbiome modulation and stress.
ITENE will also take the lead in the assessment of regulatory compliance and safety, the development and updating of a data plan for the different work packages, the management and protection of intellectual property and an exploitation strategy aimed at the target audience.