Recently, the European Strategy Forum for Research Infrastructures (ESFRI) has unanimously accepted the proposal to create a " Microbial Resources Research Infrastructure" (MIRRI), aimed at creating a network of CRB, considered one of the key elements for sustainable development of our continent. More in detail, the project MIRRI is aimed to the creation of a pan-European research infrastructure that provides access to certified collections of microorganisms, their derivatives (DNA, RNA, metabolites, etc.) and the relative information about the physiology and genetics of these organisms. The project involves 16 partners from 11 European Countries, which together will ensure the availability of all types of organisms and their derivatives and ensure the presence of personnel with vast experience, not only from a scientific point of view, but also from the legislative and management point of view.
The MUT is the only Italian collection of microorganisms involved in the project and it provide approximately 5000 fungal strains preserved in its structure.
Partners involved :
Leibniz Institute DSMZ - DEUTSCHE SAMMLUNG VON UND Mikroorganismen
ZELLKULTUREN GMBH ( DSMZ ), Germany (Coordinator).
CAB INTERNATIONAL (CABI) United Kingdom
INSTITUT PASTEUR (IP), France
FEDERAL PUBLIC SERVICE DE PROGRAMMATION POLITIQUE SCIENTIFIQUE (SPP- PS), Belgium
KONINKLIJKE NEDERLANDSE ACADEMY VAN Wetenschappen - KNAW (KNAW-CBS) The Netherlands
UNIVERSITY OF GOTHENBURG (UGOT), Sweden
UNIVERSITAT DE VALENCIA (UVEG-CECT), Spain
UNIVERSITEIT GENT (UGent), Belgium
INSTITUT NATIONAL DE LA RECHERCHE Agronomique (CIRM-INRA), France
JACOBS UNIVERSITY BREMEN GMBH (JacobsUni), Germany
Universidade do Minho (MUM-UMinho), Portugal
UNIVERSITY UNIVERSITY OF TURIN (MUT), Italy
AGENCIA Estatal Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC-IMEDEA), Spain
G.K. Skryabin INSTITUTE OF BIOCHEMISTRY AND PHYSIOLOGY OF
Microorganisms, RUSSIAN ACADEMY OF SCIENCES (IBPM), Russian Federation
INSTYTUT BIOTECHNOLOGII Przemysłu Rolno - SPOZYWCZEGO (IAFB-CCIM), Poland
UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL IRCCS San Martino -IST- INSTITUTE NATIONAL CANCER RESEARCH (USMI), Italy
Soil microbes play key roles in ecosystems and exert multiple functions, from detrimental (as pathogens) to beneficial (e.g. plant growth promoters and pathogen antagonists), impacting yield and quality of food. They influence a large number of important ecosystem processes, including nutrient acquisition, nitrogen cycling, carbon cycling and soil formation.
Moreover, soil microbes represent the unseen majority in soil and comprise a large portion of the genetic diversity on Earth (Whitman et al. 1998). Nowadays, increasing attention is devoted to rhizosphere and endophytic microbes which play a central role in promoting plant growth and health via:
- acquisition and recycling of nutrients important to plant growth,
- modulation of plant hormonal balance,
- direct or indirect protection of the plant from detrimental organisms (e.g. pathogens),
- protection against abiotic stress (e.g. drought, heavy metals), and
- improvement of soil structure.
It has been stated that “the ultimate agricultural goal in studies of the biology of the soil-root interface, must be the manipulation of micro-organisms in this zone to increase plant health and growth” (Rovira, 1979). Research should aim at improving our knowledge of the interactions between plants and microbes and of sustained management of these microbes to benefit the plantfood-
consumer chain. This knowledge could help to reduce excessive use of agrochemicals alleviating hazardous effects of agricultural production on the environment.
Sound environmental and agricultural practices should favour balanced composition of microorganisms population in the rhizosphere. A well balanced microbial population favors colonization of soil and nutrients uptake, limits pressure of pathogens (biotic stress), supports the development
of commensal or symbiotic relationship between plant and micro-organisms, etc, with a good tempering effect regarding abiotic stress (good water retention capacity, available macro- and micronutrients).
While cultivated soils have been extensively studied, pristine rhizosphere are less studied although these ecological niches could contain important micro-flora and -fauna or help understand more precisely the complex ecological relationship in soil in general, in the rhizosphere in particular.
The objectives of BRIO are:
I. to organize cooperation between specialised collections containing beneficial microorganisms isolated from the rhizosphere,
II. to constitute a common wide-range pool of microbial diversity exploitable for research and industry: the Pan-European Rhizosphere resources Network (PERN).
Collaboration between culture collections having material from West-European ecosystems and Russian Biological Resources Centres having micro-organisms from East-European biotopes will create a coordinated network of combined collections offering a wide range of micro-organisms coming from a broad spectrum of ecological zones spread over an extensive geographical area to
study and exploit. The network of combined collections will offer scientists facilitated access to geographically diverse microbiological material.
The objective of this proposal is to develop new strategies and technological solutions to enable the application of fungi in wastewater treatment in synergy with conventional biological treatment.
Fungi, thanks to their extracellular enzymes, have been demonstrated to be effective in the removal of compounds recalcitrant to conventional processes based on bacterial consortia. However, fungi are outcompeted by bacteria in the typical environmental conditions of biological reactors for wastewater treatment.
In order to overcome this limitation, the idea is to integrate the strategy of bioaugmentation with fungal biomass produced in situ in to conventional activated sludge processes and, at the same time, to achieve most of the conditions necessary to facilitate fungi competition towards bacteria through a sustainable approach: fungi selection and growth will be obtained in a sidestream reactor fed with the streams deriving from sludge dewatering.
This will ensure a high ratio between recalcitrant and biodegradable (for bacteria) compounds and the possibility of selecting fungi in confined reactors to adjust operating conditions without affecting the main-stream processes. The use of biodegradable carriers as support for fungal biomass growth would further promote fungi selection.
The biomass produced will be used as inoculum for main streams reactors with the aim of driving the selection toward a mixed (fungal and bacterial) microbial
Since biomass removal control is difficult in fixed bed biological reactors, rotating bioreactors will be specifically designed, as a trade-off between the needs of fungal
growth and of removing biomass by fine tuning the degree of shear stress on the biomass.
This approach has never been tested and has the potential of allowing the removal of recalcitrant and toxic compounds from wastewater through new sustainable
The concept will be primarily tested on compounds present in tannery wastewater and landfill leachate, due to their composition and diffusion; however, a similar approach is suitable for domestic wastewater treatment, where fungi application represent a possible solution for the removal of compounds of emerging concern such endocrine disrupting compounds.
The applicants, an environmental engineer and a biologist, have the complementary skills and knowledge that are necessary to succeed within this project.
The infrastructures available are optimal to carry out the proposed research that will involve fungi selection, bench scale tests, fungal biomass characterization modelling as well as pilot scale installations design and testing.
The potential result will be a significant advance toward a more complex and effective engineered ecosystem for biological wastewater treatment and the knowledge acquired during the project will allow to further exploit fungal enzymes in environmental biotechnologies.
An increasing body of evidence illustrates how the health of multicellular organisms such as animals and plants relies on their tight association with specialized microbial communities (microbiomes). Due to their interdependency, plants and their associated microbiomes can be viewed as “super-organisms”, which mutually enhance their metabolisms. In the classical reductionist approach, interactions with soil microbes has been studied mostly in a one-to-one combination. For example, it has been shown that the association between soil arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi and plant roots improve plant mineral nutrition, fortifies the plant against biotic and abiotic stresses, and creates positive systemic effects.
In the last years, the study of plant-microbes interactions has taken advantage of the -omic approach. The innovative next generation sequencing technologies (NGS) have revolutionised our understanding of the ecology of niches like waters and soils, and of their functioning. While barcoding allows researchers to better evaluate biodiversity, large scale analyses such as mRNA-Seq can reveal the full transcriptomic profile of one or more organisms. The main goal of this proposal is to combine NGS, proteomics, metabolomics and plant genetics to infer the principles underlying plant–microbes interactions at a community level. We will focus on the model plant Solanum lycopersicum (tomato) and its root-associated fungal biomes. In addition to its known genome and the large number of genetics tools currently available, tomato is a priority for the Italian economy. This sector needs novel discoveries to innovate and improve crop quality and yield. The outcome of the project is expected to provide new knowledge on a scientific hot spot (how microbiomes impact on plants and how plants actively shape their own microbiomes) but also on the establishment of best practices for the use of microbiota to increase plant health in agricultural settings.
The project, funded by the San Paolo Company and coordinated by Prof. Paola Bonfante, takes advantage by the collaboration of several research institutions: the University of Turin (Department of Life Sciences and Systems Biology, Department of Science and Technology of Medicine, Department of Exploitation and Protection of Agricultural and Forestry Resources), the University Calude Bernard Lyon 1 and the National Researc Council.
In the MUT laboratory, the mycoflora associated with tomato plants will be analyzed under different environmental conditions and biological weapons.