Algal aquaculture is developing exponentially worldwide, with multiple applications in the food, chemical and pharmaceutical
industries. Current research in algal biotechnology mostly focuses on metabolite discovery, aquaculture yield improvement
and engineering bottlenecks. However, agronomical experience shows that controlling the interaction of land crops with
mutualistic or pathogenic microbes is most critical to successful production. Likewise, controlling the microbial flora
associated with algae (the 'algal microbiome') is emerging as the biggest biological challenge for their increased usage.
Bacteria can control the morphogenesis of algae, while others are indispensable to algal survival. Pathogens are causing
devastating diseases, the impact of which worsens with the intensification of aquaculture practices. Thus, the overarching
aim of ALFF is to train 15 ESRs (researchers and technologists) within a multinational consortium, whilst bringing a scientific
step-change in our understanding of these interactions, leading to the development of superior mass algal cultivation and
biocontrol strategies. ALFF tackles: 1) the identification, taxonomy and utilisation of naturally-occurring algal symbionts and
pathogens; 2) inter- and intra-species signalling and chemical ecology in aquaculture, natural environment and simplified
systems (i.e. axenic cultures +/- symbionts); 3) and harnesses state of the art genomics, molecular, and biochemical
techniques to characterise these interactions. A highly interdisciplinary team underpins an ambitious theoretical, field, handson
training and research program. With the support of high profile institutions, ALFF foresees an exceptionally broad range
of dissemination and outreach initiatives to help policy makers and the general public better understand the opportunities
and issues relating to the sustainable use of our aquatic freshwater and marine resources, within and beyond the EU.