Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Innovation and exploration through cutting-edge Microbiome research

Everybody and everything is surrounded by microbiomes and understanding what microbiomes do, what they are, and how they interact is a new scientific frontier made now reachable by rapid advances in genomic mapping, robotics, and chemical analysis. What we know and understand so far is that the microbiome has essential impacts on our health and on the food we produce, on plants and animals and on ecosystems in general. Unravelling their complexity offers huge potential for innovation and will be a major game changer in the way we manage our planet's resources to obtain our food and improve our health.
Innovation and exploration through cutting-edge Microbiome research
Our own human microbiome is made up of communities of symbiotic, commensal and pathogenic bacteria as well as fungi and viruses. Our own body microbiome accounts for 100 times more genes, and over 1000 species live in our gut only. Human-hosted microbiome communities are found everywhere in our body - from our eyes, mouths and lungs to our skin, genitals and intestines.

Contributing to health and wellbeing

Some of these microorganisms have no effect on their hosts, while others like symbiotic bacteria offer a mutually beneficial relationship such as by breaking down food. Pathogens in the form of disease-causing opportunistic microorganism are also found but in smaller numbers.

Currently there is a lack of understanding about the importance of the human gut microbiome, although it is known to affect the body’s ability to extract energy from food and influence brain function. Greater insights into the gut microbiome would therefore contribute to the development of dietary interventions and other new ways to treat both chronic and acute illnesses.

But the microbiome is not just a feature of the human body, it is also found within livestock, plants, soil and the oceans. All of these interact in complex ways, which science has only just begun to comprehend. Hence, the microbiome represents a vast new area of research that offers the potential for nothing less than a food and nutrition revolution.

Highlighting groundbreaking EU research

Through the FP7 and Horizon 2020 framework programmes the EU has seized upon this unique opportunity to support ambitious cutting-edge research projects, allowing it to become a truly global leader in the study of microbiomes.

This CORDIS Results Pack focuses on 13 EU-funded projects that are spearheading microbiome research. Initiatives such as FIBEBIOTICS examined how dietary fibre enhances our body’s immune defence against pathogens. In addition, SYSBIOFUN studied the body’s antifungal immune response, whilst FUNMETA investigated host-fungus interactions by focusing on metabolic pathways.

State-of-the-art technologies were used by NUTRITECH to determine the role of phenotypic flexibility biomarkers in measuring health in humans. By identifying feed efficiency biomarkers in growing in cattle MARKEFFICIENCY was able to increase production in animals fed with high forage diets.

Meanwhile, projects MUTFLYGUTBACT and AMIABLE employed insect and mammalian models in the form of fruit flies, ants and mice. The former identified a bacterial strain for use in probiotics. The later increased the scientific knowledge of the interactions between the host and symbiont bacteria for use in environmentally friendly pest control.

Finally, the oceans represent the largest cohesive eco-system on earth. Hence the MACUMBA project isolated and cultivated marine microbial organisms to understand their role in the ocean biome. Furthermore, PHARMASEA investigated microbial genomes from extreme environments within the ocean depths, seeking bioactive compounds for treating infection and disease.
Marine biodiscovery digs deep in the quest for new treatments
Despite containing huge potential for the harvesting of unique chemical compounds, the world's oceans remain under-explored. The EU-funded PHARMASEA project sets out to release some...
Symbiosis-specific peptides – A double-edged sword to serve humanity
A steadily growing global population has brought with it concerns about coping with food security and curbing the rising incidence of drug resistance in bacteria. EU researchers...
Culturing the uncultured marine microorganisms with innovative biotechnology
Microorganisms are running our ecosystems and could offer us bottomless novel antibiotics and alternative energy sources. Our understanding of marine microbial diversity...
Analysing microbial influence in colorectal cancer
EU-funded researchers have applied novel analytical methods to shed new light on how microbes found in the mouth and gut might influence the onset of colorectal cancer. These...
Innovative approach to more efficient and eco-friendly pig and poultry production
The pig and broiler chicken industries are key contributors to the European economy, and one of the main ways to achieve sustainability is by improving feed use efficiency (FE). An...
Understanding human immune responses
Researchers with the EU-funded SYSBIOFUN project have set out to describe the factors that influence our immune responses to fungal and bacterial infections.
Better biomarkers for health and nutrition
Measuring phenotypic flexibility - how humans rapidly alter their phenotype to cope with a changing environment - could prove a vital tool for creating the basis for a new...
Tapping microbe potential to tackle malnutrition
Ground-breaking results from an EU-funded initiative could one day lead to probiotic therapies to counter malnutrition and help strengthen scientifically proven probiotic claims on...
Dietary fibres to boost the immune system
Understanding the way food ingredients interact with the body to improve health is vital to creating effective products. EU-funded scientists developed new methods to study the...
Laying down a marker for efficient cattle production
By identifying feed efficiency biomarkers in growing cattle fed high-forage diets, EU-funded researchers have taken a significant step towards achieving greater efficiency in cattle...
Human microbiome: educating the immune system against fungal infections
It is now well established that the human microbiome influences host health and disease. A European project has demonstrated that the host-microbiome interaction also shapes immune...
The dangers of using wastewater for urban agriculture
Researchers with the EU-funded ARBUATEM project are raising awareness about the dangers of using wastewater for urban agriculture in low and middle-income countries.
Understanding the role of bacterial symbionts in ants
To learn more about how bacterial symbionts impact the social evolution of ants, researchers with the EU-funded AMIABLE project conducted a uniquely interdisciplinary study.

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