Food mix
What does food have to do with climate change? Quite a lot, because as population density increases, so does the demand for food. At the same time, resources are being consumed, posing even greater challenges to our environment and climate. With its “Food 2030” priority, the European Union is pursuing the goal of ensuring innovative research for the future viability of our food system. Within the framework of its research program, acib GmbH already contributes to the development of suitable solutions for sustainable and healthy nutrition. Here are some examples and project ideas from the field of biotechnology:
ecoNutri Scheme
What if you could produce something valuable out of the pesky greenhouse gases? What if you could even use them to tackle important global challenges? This is exactly the mission of acib’s spin-off company Econutri. The small company has developed a bioprocess that uses carbon dioxide as a source to produce high quality protein. A crucial part of this process is the microorganism, Cupriavidus necator: it is grown in a gas fermentation process where hydrogen produced from green energy is needed for the microbial transformation of CO2 into protein.
Hydrogel bubbles
Climate change is causing temperatures to rise, making water an increasingly scarce resource. A natural, wood-based hydrogel that can absorb and store a multiple of its own weight in water and continuously release it to soils over long periods of time. This will enable agriculture to use water more efficiently in the future and, in particular, to supply water to areas severely affected by climate change. The technology has the potential to significantly accelerate the sustainability goals of the Agenda 2030, which officially declared the sustainable management of water resources a human right.
Kuhweide
Co-Autorin: Aleksandra Fuchs

Die Umwelt – Ein Thema, das global gesehen, seit 2019 immer mehr Menschen beschäftigt und oft sogar mehr Sorgen bereitet als zB ihre eigenen Jobs.1 Wir achten darauf weniger Plastik zu verschwenden, weniger zu reisen und möglichst Waren mit langen Transportwegen zu meiden. Ein weiterer, stark diskutierter Punkt ist zudem der enorme Fleischkonsum, der nicht nur schrecklich viele Ressourcen und Land benötigt, sondern auch mehr Wasser- und Luftverschmutzung verursacht als der gesamte Verkehrssektor.
Sugar beet field

Plants, which are the primary source of food and animal feed, are not only affected by diseases during their growth but also following harvest and subsequent storage. Especially fungi that can efficiently degrade organic matter cause substantial losses of this valuable resource. Such losses can be prevented if adequate countermeasures are implemented. A recent study demonstrates how microbial markers can be used for the early detection of disease progression. Reliable biomarkers can be specifically targeted in the future to reduce food waste and to improve the storability of agricultural goods.

arugula as an example for explored salad plants

Antibiotic-resistant bacteria are not only restricted to clinical environments, nor do they always pose an immediate danger for humans. Various environmental niches are occupied by complex microbial communities that also include members that can carry one or different antibiotic resistances. The plant microbiome often harbors highly competitive microorganisms that can shield of pathogens and contribute to the host’s health. In their latest study researchers from acib-partner TU Graz have focused on antibiotic resistances in a common salad plant and found that the indigenous enterobacterial community contributes to the highly interesting profile.

sugar beets

Sugar is not only a widely used food ingredient but can also be used as possible starting point for high-added-value products. The European research consortium of CARBAFIN explores different ways to make use of sugar beet biomass: the sugar components glucose and fructose are starting points for the production of important ingredients for not only food/feed but also cosmetics. Besides, fructose can be further converted to a platform chemical, which is applied to the production of bioplastics, biofuels or biopolymers, as well as resins. In other words, CARBAFIN people sweeten our lives!

Microorganisms play a crucial role for the health and well-being of higher organisms. Host-specific microbial communities of varying complexity form the so-called microbiota. It can consist of several thousand microbial species and includes bacteria, archaea and fungi. These microorganisms exchange a plethora of metabolites with their hosts and can modulate their functioning. Such interactions equally affect humans, animals and plants. This provides us with novel strategies to counteract various diseases and increase the resistance of higher organisms towards abiotic and biotic stresses by modulating the microbiota.

hatching eggs

The contamination of chicken eggs with fipronil led to a Europe-wide outcry in 2017. Although this specific case was not in compliance with current regulations, other treatments of hatching eggs with hazardous substances are still common. Contaminations of the eggshells with potentially animal-pathogenic microorganisms require fumigation with toxic chemicals for efficient breeding. Researchers evaluated an alternative decontamination method that is based on bacterial metabolites and showed that it is as efficient as conventional methods.