Periodic Reporting for period 2 - MICROWINE (MICROWINE - Microbial metagenomics and the modern wine industry)
Reporting period: 2017-01-01 to 2018-12-31
In recent years, the 'Next Generation' DNA sequencing revolution has revolutionised many areas of biology, including microbiology, in particular through conferring the ability to characterise microbes on the deep community scale, through both ’shotgun’ and ’deep amplicon’ sequencing approaches. To exploit the power of such approaches for the benefit of the wine industry, we have initiated MICROWINE, a Marie Curie Actions European Training Network including 15 early stage researchers (ESRs). The network is constructed as a close collaboration between industry and academic partners, around the theme of the role of the microbial community in the wine production process.
Through combining microbial metagenomic sequencing with powerful computation analyses, with metadata generated using techniques such as metabolomics and geochemistry, we will study the action of microbes from the plant protection and nutrition, through to wine fermentation process, using samples collected from both Europe and beyond. We will further train the ESRs within a wide range of relevant disciplines, and maximise information transfer through multiple host and academic-industry cosupervision and secondments. In this way, we anticipate contributing to the strength and scientific progress of the wine industry through training of a cohort of leading, interdisciplinary and tightly interconnected scientists at the forefront of modern microbiological, genomic, computational and related techniques.
During the four years, MicroWine’s research and training activities featured a large number of workshops (www.microwine.eu) that focused on both on general dissemination skills (media training and communication workshops) and scientific discipline topics ranging from Wine sensory analyses, metagenomics and fermentation techniques. This has produced 15 highly skilled ESRs who are determined to or already contributing to the wine industry specifically or to the European research environment. The network has throughout enjoyed the strong support from several industrial partners from and surrounding the wine industry.
From the network start we took measures to ensure a coherent, tightly knit network that would last throughout the 4-year period and would enable the ESRs and the experienced scientists to collaborate and use each other’s competences and infrastructure in a synergistic manner. This was headed by a management team at Aarhus University and supported by an executive steering committee encompassing key PIs that held regular meetings throughout the project’s duration. Hence, we succeeded in establishing a close community spirit that was particularly born from a planned activity structure that started with two training events following immediately the kickoff meeting in Rungsted, Denmark. From here, the ESRs and PIs met at regular timepoints for multi-day training events and social events that allowed the build-up of both professional and personal relationships.
The ESRs all started within 2.5 months of each other, ensuring that all followed the full training program planned in the network. The training was important for both professional and personal development reasons and we therefore focused 75% of the training activities in the first 18 months. Here in this first period the ESRs acquired personal skills related to communication, project management, career development media and professional networking.
The scientific training events were clustered into three distinct themes: ‘Background’. ‘Genomics and Analytic Tools’ and ‘General Vine and Wine Science’. These were held within the network as closed intensive workshops/courses. These were often coupled to symposia that involved other academic visitors, guest speakers and members of the wine industry. These events were all held with the coordination and funding provided by the network and often greatly aided by our main industrial partner Chr. Hansen. The external and internal input have been key tools to broaden the horizons of the fellows and improve networking activities (www.microwine.eu). The events were held at varying geographical sites in Europe that reflects very different traditions and approaches to winemaking. These included Germany, Georgia, Portugal, France, Denmark and Holland.
The final event was held at Cité du Vin in Bordeaux, where the fellows over a course of two days were offered a chance to present their scientific findings to a very broad range of decision makers from the wine industry and to their academic peers. Here, a number of invited speakers were also presenting their views on wine science to the network and the venue was a great networking opportunity for the students.
The societal impact of providing state of the arts training for 15 young scientists to revolutionize the European wine industry will undoubtedly show itself in the coming years as increased business competitiveness, job creation and increase wine quality and therefore quality of life in general.