Project

Microbial Resource Management (MRM): synthetic ecology for the gastrointestinal tract

Duration
01 January 2016 → 31 December 2018
Funding
Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO)
Research disciplines
  • Agricultural and food sciences
    • Agricultural animal production
    • Agricultural plant production
    • Agriculture, land and farm management
    • Other agriculture, forestry, fisheries and allied sciences
Keywords
gastro-intestinal health ecology
 
Project description

The structure of a microbial community is deeply interconnected with its functionality and
fluctuations in the environmental conditions may impact the ecosystem functionality.
Understanding how to manage these microbial resources offers possibilities for research and
practical applications. However, it remains extremely difficult to determine, in the frame of a
complex microbial community, which are the key players whose metabolic activity should be
enhanced in order to bring about a positive effect. In this respect, synthetic microbial ecology may
help.
In the frame of this project, we will study naturally evolved and functional networks of
gastrointestinal collaborating microorganisms, which perform functions that are crucial to human
health in a stable manner (i.e. collaboromes). These collaboromes will be first used for basic
ecological studies in order to understand how these microorganisms can adapt to each other, which
is their synergistic effect on the host and how do they behave with respect to changing
environmental conditions. Subsequently, the most promising “collaborome/s” will be used to prove
its efficacy when challenging more complex microbial communities, counteracting the negative
effects of a pathogen invasion or gastrointestinal chronic inflammation. In this project we will make
use of in vitro tests (i.e. SHIME), in vivo (i.e. mice) and the most advanced metagenomic and
metabolomics techniques.