Healthier diets and sustainable food and feed systems through employing microbiomes for soya production and further use (MICROBIOMES4SOY)  

1 January 2024 – 31 December 2028

Microbiomes for Sustainable Food Systems: Paving the Pathway to Transition

Microbiomes, the diverse communities of microorganisms present within in a particular environment, play a crucial but often overlooked role in our food systems. They influence various stages of food production, from farm to fork - holding significant potential for enhancing agricultural productivity, improving human health, and promoting environmental sustainability. However, despite their importance, our understanding of microbiomes within the food system remains fragmented, limiting our ability to harness their full potential for positive impact.

Recognising the urgency to better comprehend the interconnectedness of microbiomes along the food system, the MICROBIOMES4SOY project aims to address this gap by investigating the microbiomes of the soybean value chain. To reach this goal, MICROBIOMES4SOY aims to foster the transition to better planetary health through:

  • developing microbiome-based knowledge and awareness;
  • creating microbiome-based solutions for more sustainable food production; and
  • facilitating healthy soy-enriched diets.

The outcomes will be used to develop novel fish feeds for the aquaculture sector and assess the effects of soybean consumption on the human gut microbiome. By using the soybean crop as a model to deepen microbiome understanding and develop microbiome-based innovations in the food sector, the project will help facilitate the transition to healthier, more environmentally friendly, plant-based diets.

MICROBIOMES4SOY is a 5-year research project funded by the European Commission through the Horizon Europe program. Coordinated by the AIT Austrian Institute of Technology, the project gathers 17 partners from 10 countries in a collaboration between top universities and research centres, as well as expert non-profit organizations and the private sector. This approach builds on the partners’ multidisciplinary expertise and knowledge in the field in a combined effort to help investigate microbiomes as key driving influences on environmental and human health impacts. Through a Multi-Actor Approach, the project will develop transition pathways that are ready to answer food system actors’ needs and deliver co-benefits relevant to the FOOD 2030 priorities.

Key objectives:

  • Understand the dynamics and potential of plant microbiomes, focusing on the soya bean model
  • Develop microbiome-informed approaches, including agricultural management and the use of prediction models to improve yield stability, environmental sustainability, and food safety/quality
  • Investigate the impact of soya-derived protein diets on the human gut microbiome and health, offering microbiome-informed dietary recommendations
  • Create innovative soya-based aquafeeds and evaluate their effects on fish gut microbiome and health
  • Collaborate with food system stakeholders to establish regional transition pathways towards plant-based protein diets
  • Equip food system actors with knowledge and skills on microbiome interactions, benefits, and industrial applications through a multi-actor approach

View the project website here.

You can find additional information about the EU project in this leaflet.

Main EUFIC outputs 

EUFIC leads the communication and dissemination activities of the project, with the aim to empower citizens and stakeholders with improved knowledge of the microbiomes’ role in our food systems and diets. EUFIC will work towards maximising the project’s impact through the engagement of the project’s target groups (e.g., via the project website, social media, awareness campaigns, events, etc.) and the wider dissemination of project results to stakeholders in related fields (relevant conferences, webinars, info sheets, etc.). EUFIC will also support the development of educational materials and policy roundtables. Additionally, EUFIC’s research team will be involved in carrying out stakeholder surveys (with farmers and consumers).