The research focuses on microbiomes: the collection of billions of bacteria, fungi and viruses that are all around us. Microorganisms in our gut are best known, but microbiomes are everywhere: on our skin, in the soil, in water, in plants and animals. Together they form a microbiological jungle all around us: a holomicrobiome.
Microbiomes have major effects on the health of humans, animals, plants and the environment. New techniques have recently made it possible to measure, map, understand and predict their composition, functioning and effects. Research into microbiomes is therefore booming. Useful applications are also getting closer, everywhere in the food system: from healthier food to medical treatments, from sustainable and circular agriculture and livestock farming to better soil and water quality and less greenhouse gas and nutrient emissions.
From chemical to natural approach
‘We are increasingly using heavy chemical agents to control our food flow,’ says UvA professor and coordinator of the research project Marten Smidt. “These chemicals seep into our food system or even end up directly on our plates. If we better understand how microbiomes work, we can move from a chemical to a natural approach in all sectors of our food chain.'
'We are now looking at the complete food system for the first time, across worlds that until now worked and were studied separately,' says Smidt. The research should lead to major social innovations for all parts of the food system. 'Companies can innovate based on the research and governments will also be able to develop policy that cuts across domains and sectors, refine their regulations and enforce them with diagnostics much better than they can now. That is only possible if we work together in a large research collaboration like this one.'
Other UvA projects in the National Growth Fund
The UvA is a partner in several consortia that receive funding from the National Growth Fund. In this third round, researchers of our Informatics Institute are involved in:
6G Future Network Services
After the development of 5G mobile networks, work is now starting worldwide on the preparation of 6G, the next generation of mobile that is expected to be on the market in 2030. Visit the growth fund page about the 6G project for more information (only available in Dutch).