On the 5th of November CIRCLES took an exciting step forward – with collaboration and communication as key drivers. Dr Senga Robertson-Albertyn, researcher at School of Life Sciences, Dundee University and CIRCLES partner, presented the online webinar titled “CIRCLES H2020: Can Natural Microbiomes Be Exploited for More Sustainable, Productive and Nutritious Food Production?” – hosted by executive director of International Alliance for Phytobiomes Research Kellye Eversole.

The webinar presentation began with Senga describing the urgent need for sustainable agriculture and the innovative roles of microbiomes in plant health – she introduced the concept of plant growth-promoting microorganisms, PGPM for short, which are microorganisms that aid plants in various processes such as mineral uptake and protection from other pathogens.

The conversation continued towards explaining what Senga and her team research in the context of CIRCLES. Their research specializes in the soil microbiome of the spinach and tomato plants – for this reason their research is largely field-based, or as she describes it “team work between researchers, farmers and companies to improve production, quality and sustainability”.  Through initial observation, microbiome and wastewater sampling, and further analytical interventions, they have been able to pinpoint the main smart microbiome modulators from the tomato and spinach food chains. In collaboration with the other CIRCLES research partners smart microbiome food products and microbiome transparent labelling are expected to be developed to contribute towards more productive and sustainable food crops.

The engaging webinar slowly came to a halt with an explanation of the limitations that their research has faced due to the covid-19 pandemic, but also highlighting the opportunities that have arisen for them. To learn more in depth about the outcomes of their research so far, or to watch the whole webinar series, you can check out the recording below of by clicking here!

A big thank you to Senga Robertson-Albertyn, Davide Bulgarelli and the rest of the research team at Dundee University (@TeamDB_Lab) for their continuous efforts in the CIRCLES project.