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MICROWINE Report Summary

Project ID: 643063
Funded under: H2020-EU.1.3.1.

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - MICROWINE (MICROWINE - Microbial metagenomics and the modern wine industry)

Reporting period: 2015-01-01 to 2016-12-31

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

A diverse, complex, and poorly characterised community of microorganisms lies at the heart of the wine – an industry worth over €220 billion globally. These microorganisms play key roles at all stages of the viniculture and vinification processes, from helping plants access nutrients from the soil, driving their health through protection against pathogens, to fermentation processes that transform the must into wine with its complex array of aromas and flavours. Given this importance, an improved understanding of the microbial community and its interplay will have significant effects on the industry. In recent years, 'Next Generation' DNA sequencing has revolutionised many areas of biology, including microbiology, through conferring the ability to characterise microbes on the deep community scale, through both ’shotgun’ and ’deep amplicon’ sequencing approaches. To exploit this power for the benefit of the wine industry, we propose MICROWINE, a 15 ESR Marie Curie Actions European Training Network. The network is constructed as a close collaboration between industry and academic partners, around the theme of the microbial community’s role 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 across a wide range of relevant disciplines, and maximise information transfer through multiple host and academic-industry co-supervision 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.

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

The project has so far developed new ways to examine DNA from plants and microbial communities on all the different compartments or tissues relevant for health of the vines. In this way DNA has been extracted from e.g. soil cores from different wine yards, rhizosphere, phyllosphere as well as from the wine must at different stages of fermentation. Samples have been collected from vine yards in app. 50 different geographical locations across all continents - ranging from e.g. Germany and Denmark in the North, France, Georgia, Italy, Portugal and Spain in central Europe to Argentina, Australia and South Africa in the South. These are being processed by 'Next Generation' DNA sequencing and other microbiological and chemical technics to illuminate key microbes related to plant health, pathogens, soil core fingerprint taxa as well as impacts on final wine quality and flavor. In addition, bioinformatical tools and pipelines and mathematical models are developed and some already ready for test application.
Finally, causes and cures of various plant diseases are being investigated at the moment including disease modeling and Bioprotection field experiments carried out using bacterial alternatives to Cu and pesticides.

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

The originality of the MICROWINE research program, at its most simple, is the array of state of the art research methods that are brought together for the first time with such a focus on the wine industry. While the role of microbiology in wine industry has been long appreciated (hence why major industrial players such as our Partner Christian Hansen A/S have such established wine technology departments based around microbiology), it is only recent developments in metagenomic sequencing and data analysis capabilities that have enabled analyses on the microbial community to be undertaken with a level of detail suitable to provide deep insights into the full role of the microbes throughout the viticulture ‘pipeline’. By focusing on plant, microbiome and pathogen genomicists, bioinformaticians, mathematical modellers and chemists under one umbrella, closely guided by a single major industrial partner (Christian Hansen A/S) whose wide interests span the range of biologically relevant 21st century challenges to the wine industry, our crossdisciplinarity research has the surrounding societal attention. During the 1st half of the project great interest has been shown from academic researchers, agricultural interest groups and the general public. Speaking in plain words, wine and microbial ecology makes great dinner conversation! Thus dissemination to both scientific and non-scientific audiences has so far been successful and the results from the second half of the project is much anticipated and several invitations to disseminate this knowledge has already been aired. We will synthesize these interests and ensure the dissemination of knowledge of our final meeting in Bordeaux to include the different parties in the wine process from Winemaker through scientists to general public wine consumers.

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