A better knowledge of food system microbiomes will allow implementing a vast panel of smart microbiome modulators (SMMs), to be applied in integrative circular actions in smart microbiome food systems (SMFSs). Thanks to a better exploitation of strategic microbiome functionalities, SMFSs are more productive, safe, sustainable and resilient, being the gold standard for responsible, competitive and secure future EU food systems. Adequately and responsibly disseminated, the SMFPs, the food products derived from SMFSs, will join food quality and profound impacts in terms of sustainability and human health.
Microbes are everywhere in our living environment, yet how they contribute to the quality, productive, safety and environmental sustainability in the food system is largely unknown. CIRCLES aims to understand the microbiome in the food system to optimise its application across different food chains.
Animal and plant microbiomes are of strategic importance to improve food productivity and quality, thanks to their positive action on host physiology, energy homeostasis and feed efficiency. On the other hand, environmental microbiomes can be crucial to achieving sustainable intensification of food systems, by enhancing the ecosystem capacity to buffer food system pressures on the environment. Finally, by definition, microbiomes are central in contrasting the biodiversity crash, ensuring a large panel of functional diversity and functional redundancy strategic for the resilience of the ecosystem.
The project strategy is orchestrated in three main phases:
I) a science-informed discovery to improve the microbiome knowledge;
II) a science-to-companies translation phase to exploit the CIRCLES microbiome knowledge;
III) a communication phase where an open, dynamic and free dialogue between companies, stakeholders, civil society and scientists is engaged.
CIRCLES is designed to be inclusive taking into account the needs of different stakeholders: a high quality product to ensure sustainable businesses and food safety for consumers, sustainability aspects for a future-proof European food system and highly nutritious and safe products for human health.
Ensuring trust in a product is enhanced with traceable origins. CIRCLES works on ensuring that its microbiome food products will have traceable origins to provide transparency over the food’s lifecycle.