The CIRCLES online workshop on “Plant and Soil Microbiomes for Sustainable Agriculture” was held on 29 March 2021.

The workshop attendance was a great success and hosted around 60 people ranging from European policy makers and industry representatives to scientists and experts in research and innovation.

The workshop identified the potential of microbiomes for agricultural applications that support future-proof food system. Starting with a presentation about plant and soil microbiomes in tomatoes and spinach food systems, Dr. Davide Bulgarelli from the University of Dundee explained that soil and plant microbes show a tremendous potential to sustainably enhance crop productivity by enhancing plant nutrient uptake, tolerance to abiotic stress and protection against pathogens. Based on observations made by CIRCLES researchers in tomato and spinach plants, Dr. Bulgarelli emphasized that identifying crop-specific microorganisms, as well as a better understanding of the dynamics between microbes and plants, are key to pave the way for effective usage of microorganisms in agricultural applications.

In continuation, attendees had the opportunity to hear from Dr. Theodora Nikolakopoulou about the European regulatory framework on plant biostimulants. Next to explaining regulations that encompass safety requirements and authorised component materials for plant biostimulants, she also addressed current limitations such as the lack of a supervising authority monitoring the compliance with regulations. The third and final presentation was delivered by Dr. Alberto Acedo from Biome Makers, a global agritech company that focuses on the modeling of soil functionality. Dr. Acedo has been studying soil and plant microbiomes for the past 6 years and he provided attendees with a unique insight into soil biology by presenting data that the company has gathered over this period.

Before the workshop ended, the audience had the chance to exchange with speakers and other attendees. A highly discussed topic were EU regulations limiting the current use of microorganisms for agricultural purposes, which led to a constructive conversation on necessary actions to overcome such regulatory challenges.

We would like to thank all attendees and speakers for their engagement and express a special thank you to Davide Bulgarelli for the excellent facilitation of the workshop and the continuous efforts of his research team at Dundee University in the CIRCLES project.

Would you like to know more in depth about the outcomes of the workshop?

Read the workshop report or watch the recording below.