MIRRI WEBINARS: Microbial resources for a Green, Healthy and Sustainable future & Cutting-edge technologies for 2030 microbial Culture Collections

The partners of IS_MIRRI21, with the leadership of INRAE from France organised two webinars on November 18 and November 19, 2021, aiming at addressing microbial resources and microbial culture collections.

The first webinar, called “Microbial resources for a green, healthy and sustainable future”, focused on MIRRI’s Strategic Research & Innovation Agenda (SRIA) and how future research, innovation and market opportunities can be anticipated through the project’s strategic areas and further mapped under the Horizon Europe clusters on Health, Food, Bioeconomy, Natural Resources, Agriculture and Environment. After opening remarks by Luís Soares (MIRRI Executive Director), keynote speaker Dominik Sobczak (European Commission; ESFRI) addressed the relevance of research infrastructures to the new European Research Area and for delivering the impacts of Horizon Europe. MIRRI’s seven strategic areas were presented by Sylvie Brisse (Institut Pasteur), Nélson Lima (Universidade do Minho), Rosa Aznar (CECT/UVEG), Paris Laskaris (NKUA), Cristina Varese (UNITO), Craig Faulds (INRAe CIRM-CF) and Gerard Verkleij (KNAW). These presentations were complemented by speakers who showcased MIRRI’s participation in Horizon Europe and its clusters, such as the example of the ISIDOre project by Raquel Hurtado-Ortiz (Institut Pasteur), the BY-COVID project by Paolo Romano (USMI) and the general introduction of the Horizon Europe clusters of Health (Virginie Sivan, NCP-France, MESRI) and Food, Bioeconomy, Natural Resources, Agriculture and Environment (Marta Conde-Vidal, NCP-Spain, CDTI).

Finally, several scientific speeches were held, addressing the current status of microalgae as a source of biologically active compounds (Juan Luis Gomez, BEA), the use of microbial BRCs in support of the ecological transition to sustainable and healthy food products (Michel-Yves Mistou, INRAe-CIRM), the Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi and other key organisms for improving crop production (Stéphane Declerck, BCCM-MUCL), the collaborative work experience in the field of oil bioremediation with industrial partners (Maria Kuyukina, PFRC UB RAS), the bioconversion of lignin-derived aromatics compounds into platform chemicals (Ronald de Vries, KNAW) and several scenarios on how to preserve yeast diversity from worldwide endangered cold habitats in the era of climatic change (Benedetta Turchetti, DBVPG).

The second webinar, called “Cutting-edge technologies for 2030 microbial culture collections”, took place on November 19 and was subdivided in a section about microbiota conservation and characterisation, the MALDI-TOF mass spectrometry and genomics. Matthew Ryan (CABI), Thomas Riedel (DSMZ), Perrine Portier (INRAe CFBP), Hauke Smidt (U Wageningen) and Vincent Thomas (BioAster) were the speakers of the session dedicated to microbiota, while Anneleen Wieme (BCCM/LMG), Sylvain Brisse (Institut Pasteur) and Vincent Robert (KNAW; Bioaware) discussed the applications of MALDI-TOF. Antonis Rokas (Vanderbilt Univ. Nashville), Sarah Lebeer (U Antwerpen) and Federica Palma (Institut Pasteur) delivered their presentations in the final session, dedicated to genomics, before Jean-Luc Legras (INRAe CIRM-Levures) concluded the event.

The first webinar provided insights into microbial solutions in line with the 2030 EU Food Policy, functions of soil microbes for plant health and the industrial scale-up of microorganism production to produce a healthier environment, among many other interesting speeches, research outcomes and recent findings. This webinar also showcased concrete destinations in Horizon Europe which may be funding opportunities for research and innovation in these fields. In sum, the presentations held had the objective of fostering ideas and innovations regarding applications of microorganisms in different sectors – and especially how these can have symbiotic effects with existing large organisms. The same applies to the second webinar, albeit the more technical content. The presentation in the November 19 webinar featured concrete suggestions and best practices with respect to the taxonomic composition of microbial communities, building databases for culturomics projects and using genomic libraries to study strain biodiversity, among other areas of application.

Over 340 participants from 42 countries attended the webinars, with the overwhelming majority (88%) coming from public organisations, that showed particular interest in MIRRI’s activities and future outlook. The partners of the H2020 project, IS_MIRRI21, were truly excited to have welcomed such a large crowd from different nations and more than happy to deliver information into the interesting and ever-dynamic world of microbiology and microorganisms. The presentation summaries can be read here.

For more information about MIRRI and microorganisms in general, make sure not to miss any of our upcoming event!

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For more information and feedback, please contact us at: franciscorocha@spi.pt; danielpichler@spi.pt.

IS_MIRRI21 engages with the public for #WorldMicrobiomeDay2021

The partners of the H2020 project, IS_MIRRI21, launched a webinar on 27 June 2021 for the annual event of World Microbiome Day. The event aimed to approach members of the society to investigate and bring recognition to the value of microorganisms in the world. The webinar was organised by two experts and representatives of MIRRI partner organisations, Giulia Cheloni (National Research Institute for Agriculture, Food and the Environment, France) and Anna Poli (Università degli Studi di Torino, Italy) and other experts from the same institutions in France (Marwa Zaarour) and in Italy (Cristina Varese). The webinar had four main sessions, i) Demo about Microbiome and Microorganisms for a Sustainable World ii) Quiz on microbial biodiversity and sustainability, iii) a presentation on Culture collections and their role in microbial biodiversity preservation and exploration; and finally, iv) how IS_MIRRI21 intends to strengthen the impact of culture collection by connecting them. 

One of the key objectives of the event was to present how EU-funded projects such as IS_MIRRI21 are supporting the research and innovation ecosystem. In addition, an overall overview of how culture collections are used to preserve biodiversity and the roles of microbes in the sustainability of the environment was presented. Moreover, a video demo was used to explore the world of microorganisms and introduced the importance of the microbiome. The presentations were made with the intention of fostering ideas to build a sustainable world through the exploration and exploitation of symbiotic relationships between large- and micro-organisms. 

This was followed by an enlightening quiz on microbial biodiversity to later be used as a trigger for curiosity and debate during the Q&A session. A total of 77 participants attended the webinar, which was concluded with a heartfelt enjoyment and excitement for the next event. The webinar recording can be viewed here.

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For more information and feedback, please contact us at: franciscorocha@spi.pt; tedoraaibu@spi.pt

Call for a Special Issue

Call for the issue on “Microbiota Exploitation for the Development of Innovative and High Added-value Fermented Food

To be published in the journal: Foods (ISSN 2304-8158) IF 4.092
Guest Editors: Dr. Luciana De Vero, Prof. Dr Andrea Pulvirenti, Prof. Dr.Ilaria Mannazzu

Fermentation of dairy products, vegetables, cereals, meat, and fish have emerged in human history, almost concomitantly across the different continents, as a strategy for the preservation of raw materials and the production of food and beverages for times of shortage. Since then, humankind has traditionally and empirically utilized fermentation not only for preservation purposes but also for the improvement of the organoleptic properties, texture, digestibility, palatability, and safety of all sorts of food matrices. This has led to the production of a myriad of fermented products that are the result of different cultural preferences and traditions and cover about thirty percent of the human diet, regardless of geographic area and lifestyle. Nowadays, fermentation is widely employed also to enrich food and beverages with beneficial viable microorganisms and/or their metabolites in order to positively impact human health. This result can be achieved either through the exploitation of the wild microbiota naturally associated with raw materials or as the result of the inoculation of selected starters and requires the characterization, preservation, management and circulation of microbial diversity.

Keeping into consideration the keywords “food microbiota” and “fermentation”, this Special Issue aims to collect original research papers, review articles, and short communications addressing novel and relevant findings on the applications of lactic acid bacteria, acetic acid bacteria, yeasts and filamentous fungi isolated from food matrices or preserved in culture collections. Of particular interest will be contributions regarding:

  • the characterisation, exploitation, and preservation of beneficial microbiota for fermented local-food production;
  • the development of high added-value and novel fermented products;
  • the reduction of chemical preservatives in food through the production of natural antimicrobials of microbial origin;
  • the production of bioactive compounds with health-promoting activity.

The deadline for submission is 31 August 2021 (with a possibility for extension).

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Applicants should indicate in the application cover letter that the manuscript is recommended by Dr. Vero.

Applicants and interested authors have the following discounts:

30% discount – available until 31 August 2021;
20% discount – available until 30 September 2021;

Know our first four researchers who will be granted access to MIRRI/IS_MIRRI21 facilities in 2021

Roksana Majewska – Postdoc researcher at the North-West University (South Africa)

Roksana is a marine biologist, phycologist, and natural scientist with experience in various fields of aquatic and environmental studies. She is a research fellow at the Unit for Environmental Sciences and Management, North-West University (South Africa) and the South African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity, where she studies tropical and extreme habitat diatoms using both morphological and molecular approaches and supports the management and development of the South African National Diatom Collection. Roksana is also a visiting scientist at the Department of Integrative Biology, The University of Texas in Austin (USA), and the Chair of the Africa BioGenome Project Pilot Committee.

Assunta Saide – Postdoc researcher at Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn (Italy)

Assunta’s research interests are marine biotechnology, cellular and molecular biology with a strong expertise in mechanisms of induction of apoptosis and cellular death in human cancer cells. As a researcher of the POR project ADVISE at the SZN, she is involved in the characterisation of biological activities of chemical compounds extracted from microalgae, on different cancer cell lines and the identification of the targeted genes. The aim is to identify new compounds that induce a specific type of cell death in cancer cells; and/or stimulate an immune response in normal cells so that they can inhibit cancer cell growth

Agapi Doulgeraki – Assistant researcher at Institute of Technology of Agricultural Products, ELGO-DEMETER (Greece)

Dr. Agapi Doulgeraki is an Assistant Researcher (topic: Food microbiology) at the Institute of Technology of Agricultural Products of Hellenic Agricultural Organization – DIMITRA. She is specialised in food microbiology and application of molecular techniques. Specifically, her research interests focus on monitoring microorganisms and their behaviour in foods by application of standard and molecular techniques, enhancement of foods’ safety and quality (use of natural antimicrobials, fermentation, packaging, probiotics etc.), biofilm formation on biotic and abiotic surfaces and biofilm decontamination. She holds a degree in Food Science and Technology from Agricultural University of Athens and a Ph.D. in Food microbiology from Cranfield University.

Fortunato Palma Esposito – Postdoc researcher at Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn (Italy)

Fortunato is an early career Postdoc researcher at Marine Biotechnology Department at Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn of Naples. He obtained his PhD degree in biotechnology in 2018 followed by almost 2 years of work as an innovation consultant writing and managing European projects. Fortunato has a broad experience in microbiology, working with bacteria, yeast and fungi especially from marine sources. Fortunato’s scientific interests are mainly based on the sustainable exploitation of marine microbial biodiversity to identify novel bioactive compounds for biotech applications. He was a visiting student in several Biotech labs in Europe and successfully participated in others TNA programmes. 



Publisher: Institut Pasteur

Launch of the new MIRRI website and MIRRI CWE

On 24 March 2021, the new MIRRI website (www.mirri.org) was launched, creating a Collaborative Working Environment (CWE) that facilitates interaction among MIRRI partners and users from various stakeholder communities, boosting the possibilities to share knowledge, exchange experience and collaborate to achieve common goals in research and development. The CWE presents a forum to bring together partners and users from various communities, scientific areas and industry stakeholders.

Through the CWE, MIRRI provides:

  • Unique entry point to the broadest catalogue of microbial resources, advanced services and education & training microbial-related offer in Europe
  • Access to state-of-the-art facilities and tailor-made services and pipelines, going from bioprospection to validation of functional properties, through Transnational Access Programmes
  • Access to the largest datasets associated with microbial resources in Europe, embedded in the EOSC and following FAIR principles
  • Access to a wide selection of experts in different topics related with the use of microbial resources
  • Access to training courses and e-learning webinars covering different aspects on the use of microbial resources, targeted to mBRC users
  • Access to official academic schemes, different learning materials and workshops to train mBRC and Culture Collection professionals
  • Access to digital content to increase the knowledge about microbes in the society, adapted to different audiences (schools, policy makers, broad audience)

All these elements are being implemented on the frame of the IS_MIRRI21 project, so the website is being updated as the CWE construction progresses, offering new services as well as pieces of information.

Have innovative ideas? 

Contact us at info@mirri.org. We welcome your suggestions to improve our MIRRI CWE!

Italians do it.. microbiologically! The Joint Research Unit MIRRI-IT: status and undergoing activities

In 2017, five public Italian Institutions (University of Torino, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, University of Perugia, National Research Council, and San Martino Polyclinic Hospital) agreed to co-found the Joint Research Unit MIRRI-IT, with the aim of supporting the adhesion of Italy to MIRRI and creating its Italian node, as a first step for the construction of the Italian network of collections of microbial resources. MIRRI-IT aims to increase the communication between Institutions, collections and stakeholders, and to overcome the fragmentation in the availability of resources and services.

To date, 17 associated members have joined the five founding Institutions, representing a large portion of the microbial collections in Italy. Among new partners are universities, medical and veterinary research centres, and regional and national research centres. Represented resources include the majority of microbial organisms and collections often possessing original strains, not available elsewhere. A website has been created where all the information and news regarding MIRRI-IT can be found (http://www.mirri-it.it/). The expertise and point of view of MIRRI-IT partners has also been presented in a collaborative paper (see De Vero L. et al. 2019, https://doi.org/10.3390/microorganisms7120685).

In recent months, the scientific committee of MIRRI-IT has restarted its activities after the stop due to COVID-19, planning the organisation of several working groups, which operate in different topics concerning collections research and management. The groups are focused on the following subjects:

  • Microorganisms of food interest;
  • Microorganisms of agricultural, forestry and environmental interest;
  • Microorganisms of medical and veterinary interest;
  • Data and catalogue management;
  • Certifications, especially ISO standards relating to collections;
  • Molecular characterisation and identification of microorganisms;
  • Common protocols and procedures;
  • Updating of the National Plan on agro-biodiversity; and
  • Relations with scientific societies and foreign collections, promotion and communication.

With this new scientific structure, MIRRI-IT will definitely match the purposes of IS_MIRRI21 Work Packages, functioning as a productive interface between the individual Italian collections and the European Institutions and stakeholders.

For more information, you are welcome to get in touch by email with the Coordinator, Prof. Varese, at coordinatore@mirri-it.it.

MIRRI receives a delegation from the European Council

MIRRI was honoured with a visit from a delegation of 40 Economic Advisers and other members representing 27 countries from the European Commission on 8 June 2021. The Directorate-General for Economic Activities (DGAE) and the Portuguese Permanent Representation to the European Union (REPER) organized a tour across several institutions including Centre of Biological Engineering (CEB) at University of Minho (UMinho) and International Nanotechnology Laboratory in Braga, Portugal.

Under the scope of the Portuguese Presidency of the European Union Council, the delegates had an overview of the industrial, technological and innovative initiatives from the North of Portugal. MIRRI, with headquarters at UMinho, was selected among few research project and spin-offs, to take part in the exhibition and showcase its work. MIRRI’s Team presented its mission, organisation and activities, and disseminate its Strategic Research & Innovation Agenda 2021-2030. In addition, the Portuguese Society of Microbiology (SPM) availed a mascot SACA (representing Saccharomyces Yeast) to MIRRI to promote the upcoming International Microorganism Day, on 17 September, 2021.

Nelson Lima, Head of MIRRI-PT and H2020 IS_MIRRI21 Project Coordinator, and the MIRRI Central Coordinating Unit members – Luís Soares, Bassem Kheireddine and Ana Ferreira, represented MIRRI in the event. The team engaged with the countries’ representatives with the aim of fostering the promotion of activities and enlargement of MIRRI with new entities from the public, private and industrial domains.

Successful launch and completion of IS_MIRRI21/MIRRI two matchmaking events

The partners of H2020 project, IS_MIRRI21, launched two events on 15 and 17 June with the aim of opening gateways for MIRRI to foster new partnerships and collaboration with its users through the opportunities presented in the new European Union funding programme, Horizon Europe. The event was co-organised by the coordinator of IS_MIRRI21, the University of Minho (UMinho) and Sociedade Portuguesa de Inovação (SPI) from Portugal and hosted over 120 participants from Europe, Africa and Latin America. Both were side-events at the RI-VIS H2020, sister project of IS_MIRRI21, Latin America-Europe Symposium on Research Infrastructures that took place from 15-17 June. 

The IS_MIRRI21 webinar was presented by two experts and representatives of MIRRI partner organisations, Nelson Lima (University of Minho, Portugal) and Joanna Bucka-Kolendo (Institute of Agricultural and Food Biotechnology, Poland) and an expert from the PERIN Network in Portugal, Daniel Carapau (Foundation for Science and Technology, Portugal). The main aim of the event was to widen MIRRI’s outreach and boost its impact in the research and innovation sector by showcasing its unique value-added to its potential users and partners from Europe and Latin-America. The webinar had three main sessions, i) presentation of MIRRI as a pan-European Research Infrastructure (RI) with immense capacity to provide resources and expertise for any partnership, ii) instructing on how to become one of the 50+ members of MIRRI and gain from the collective assets presented through the network, and iii) exhibit some of the most relevant, and present funding opportunities in the Horizon Europe programme Pillar I (Excellent Science).

Hand-in-hand, the workshop focused on MIRRI’s core values and strategic plan to influence and create a wave of changes in the R&I sectors through escalating access: access to resources, information, expertise and to its network of partners from 11 European countries. The workshop had three key sessions, i) presentation of MIRRI’s collaborative history with infrastructures in Europe and Latin America, i) MIRRI Strategic R&I Agenda (SRIA) and  the seven strategic areas which showcase MIRRI’s expertise and how it intends to serve the bioindustry and iii) funding opportunities from the Horizon Europe programme under Pillar II corresponding to the MIRRI domains: Health & Food, Agro-food and Environment and Energy. The workshop was co-facilitated by MIRRI experts –  Nelson Lima (University of Minho, Portugal), Rosa Aznar (University of Valencia, Spain), Gerard Verkleij (Koninklijke Nederlandse Akademie Van Wetenschappen, Netherlands), and members of the PERIN Network – Isabel Carvalho Oliveira (Agency for Clinical Research and Biomedical Innovation , Portugal) Maria João Fernandes and Cristiana Leandro (National Agency of Innovation , Portugal). 

The expected outcomes of both events were to present the tools, i.e., funding opportunities for collaboration. This is so researched infrastructures and institutions as well as experts and members of the bioindustry sector can collaborate to realise innovative solutions. Solutions that can progress research so that we can fight and win the battle against incessant health, economic and environmental challenges which are hindering growth and development in many communities around the world. 

Moreover, IS_MIRRI21 and MIRRI were represented by Raquel Hurtado-Ortiz from Institut Pasteur (France) at the RI-VIS main event on 17 June. A panel discussion on the subject of ‘Future of Latin America-Europe Research Infrastructure Collaborations’ was held with the aim of debating how to foster long/term RI partnerships across borders that have the potential to improve the efficiency and quality of research to tackle the many challenges faced by society today. The event brought together around 100 people from different countries of Europe and Latin America to address major global issues such as climate change, infectious diseases, food security, and natural disasters.

We thank all the speakers for their professionalism and dedication to support IS_MIRRI21 and MIRRI’s mission through these events! 

The webinar and workshop are now available on the IS_MIRRI21 website for your viewing:https://ismirri21.mirri.org/resources/project-videos/

If you participated or watched the events and would like to share your take or get hold of us, fill in this 3 min survey: https://forms.gle/zCeKKoGD84npCdoJ7

Where do we go next?

IS_MIRRI21 will continue its outreach activities to engage with MIRRI’s users and public audiences with hunger to acquire knowledge in the fields of biosciences and gain an appreciation for the tiny lives that have a great impact on our lives. The next IS_MIRRI21 event will take place on 27 June 2021, 11.00-12.00 CEST for the World Microbiome Day #WMicrobiomeDay! What will we look at? Sustainability of the environment through symbiotic living with microorganisms that are not only as powerful but are also allies in this venture. Their positive roles should never be underestimated or overlooked.


All are invited! Register here (FREE):  https://forms.gle/Aeu1s3fZLUnEKj4t9

More events will come from the IS_MIRRI21 partners #ScienceisWonderful #InternationalMicroorganismDay.

Stay tuned!

Contacts: For more information and feedback, please contact us at: franciscorocha@spi.pt; tedoraaibu@spi.pt

MIRRI successfully concludes its 1st TNA call for proposals and thanks all applicants

The Microbial Resource Research Infrastructure (MIRRI) is pleased to inform that recently, and after 3 months of continuous and intense dissemination, has successfully completed its 1st call for Transnational Access (TNA) under the IS_MIRRI21 project. Applications have been received from Europe, Africa and Latin America, covering fields as diverse as biotechnology, bioeconomy, pharmacology, agri-food and environmental conservation.

The process is now proceeding with the evaluation phase, where external experts review the submissions and select the most suitable ones to have funded access to develop their projects at the IS_MIRRI21 partners’ facilities. The awarded submissions will be announced on the 4th   of June on the IS_MIRRI21 TNA page and the access to the facilities will be granted from July 2021.

The unprecedented health crisis the world is living nowadays has made a lasting impact on research and the mobility of scientists. Notwithstanding, MIRRI and the IS_MIRRI21 project partners are always committed to guarantee, as much as possible, the access to its facilities and resources and keep supporting the development of meritorious research and innovation projects.

MIRRI and the IS_MIRRI21 project partners deeply appreciate the interest and the participation of all the applicants on this 1st Transnational Access call!

Publisher: Institut Pasteur

A series of seminars in April and May 2021 for Italian high schools

University of Torino (UNITO) and IS_MIRRI21 join the Scientific Degree Plan 2020-21 (PLS) to promote the acquisition of scientific skills that better meet the challenges of contemporary society and the expectations of the world of work by students.

The PLS (Piano Lauree Scientifiche) represents a consolidated initiative to promote the acquisition of scientific skills that better meet the challenges of contemporary society and the expectations of the world of work by students and to strengthen the impact of training on society. The actions aim to: a) systematize the practice of the “laboratory” for the teaching of basic sciences, in particular for the training orientation of female students and students of the last three years of secondary school; b) open new experimentations in schools and universities of didactic activities aimed at improving the preparation of students in relation to the knowledge required for entry to scientific degree courses; c) consolidate, develop and systematize the opportunities for professional growth of teachers of scientific subjects in service in the upper secondary school; and d) reduce the dropout rate between the first and second year during university studies through the innovation of teaching tools and methodologies.

Mycotheca Universitatis Taurinensis (MUT) will organize a series of seminars at various high schools in Turin (Italy) and its province to better raise awareness of microorganisms and their potential to face some of the great challenges of contemporary society. The seminars are conducted in Italian and the activities are organized into 3 main topics:

  • Microorganisms around us;
  • Microorganisms in the great societal challenges; and
  • Microorganisms as pivotal tools in environmental bioremediation.

Publisher: UNITO