Microbiome science aims to tackle biggest challenges

Published: 18 February 2021

New research and innovation collaboration networks could help to make the most of the UK’s world-renowned microbiome expertise.

It is among a series of recommendations made in a newly published KTN Microbiome Strategic Roadmap, which says that microbiome science “holds the promise of providing vital solutions for some of society’s biggest challenges”.

These challenges include chronic and infectious human diseases, consumer health and wellbeing, plant and animal agricultural productivity and the ongoing threats of antimicrobial resistance and pandemics.

In line with the ‘one health’ approach, the report spans human, animal and plant sectors and includes contributions from SRUC.

Microbiome is the collective term for micro-organisms found in a particular environment, including the body or a part of the body, in plants and in animals.

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Compiled by the KTN Microbiome Innovation Network, the report describes the UK’s “world-leading” position in microbiome science, especially relating to human health and wellness, as well as its strong position in the animal and plant-based agriculture sectors.

The country also has some of the world’s leading pharmaceutical, consumer health and wellness and agri-tech companies, a successful biotech ecosystem, a supportive environment for life sciences and biotech start-ups and a constructive regulatory environment.

New collaboration networks and encouraging microbiome entrepreneurship would, it says, “unlock the full potential of this rapidly developing field of science”.

Professor Jamie Newbold from SRUC, lead author on the report’s section on Animal Health and Nutrition, said: “By having a greater understanding of microbiome science, we can have informed discussions about how we can exploit it, how we can improve human and animal health and to improve our protection of crops.”

Professor Nicola Holden, who leads SRUC’s Safe and Improved Food Challenge Centre, was among the authors of the report’s section on Agrifood and Nutrition – Crop & Soil Health.

She said: “SRUC is involved in generating a national plant microbiome resource for the major crops. This is an excellent example of how we aim to deliver on these promises, whether in natural product discovery or in plant protection against pathogens.”

Download the Report PDF


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