New research project explores the potential of using microbiomes in our food production systems – University of Copenhagen

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20 December 2018

New research project explores the potential of using microbiomes in our food production systems

New research

A new project funded by the European Union will explore the potential of exploiting microorganisms in plants and animals to improve food security and promote sustainable and health supporting food production. Department of Food Science and Department of Nutrition, Exercise and Sports at the University of Copenhagen participates in the project and aims to test new foods in relationen to metabolic syndrome. 

Members of the SIMBA consortium at the project’s kick-off meeting in Helsinki in December 2018. Photo: Erkki Oksanen, LUKE

The project, SIMBA (Sustainable Innovation of Microbiome Applications in Food System), aims to tackle the growing challenge of supplying food to a growing global population amidst the climate change crisis, through innovative activities around food systems using microorganisms.

The project marks the beginning of a plan that will explore the value and potential of microbiomes in our food production systems. Microbiomes are a community of microorganisms such as bacteria, fungi, and viruses that inhabit a particular environment. These communities play a vital role in the productivity and health of plants and animals. Exploitation of the communities in species used as food sources could then lead to the creation of healthier, more stable and secure crops and livestock.

SIMBA will focus on two interconnected food chains: crop production and aquaculture. Microbial soil fertility and plant defence will be studied, especially for dry areas susceptible to erosion. The potential of marine microbiomes to boost algal biomass, to facilitate natural feed production and to reduce large use on antibiotics will be studied. Exploration and exploitation of microbiomes are instrumental for the development of new healthier food and feed products. Microbes can also be applied as ingredients to food to improve gut microflora and to ensure a better uptake of nutrients.

Fermented product to patients with metabolic syndrome

The researchers from the University of Copenhagen, Professor Dennis Sandris Nielsen, UCPH FOOD, and Post Doc Mads Vendelbo Lind, UCPH NEXSI), will investigate the effect of a fermented product based on rapeseed and seaweed on patients with metabolic syndrome in the frame of an intervention study in 2019/2020.