HoloFood highlighted at COP26

Rob Finn, HoloFood partner and team leader of the microbiome informatics group at EMBL-EBI is present at COP26 in Glasgow, as part of the EMBL delegation on the many uses of molecular biology and how they can be used for these global challenges. There HoloFood was highlighted as an example of an ambitious project about how the life sciences can tackle climate change and enable the Green Recovery.

The global challenges we face today can feel overwhelming: from global warming, to the rapid loss of diversity and increasing pollution of the environment, these are urgent challenges the world needs to respond to immediately.

The life sciences hold an enormous responsibility to rise to these challenges. Recent technological advancements and open science policies now allows for researchers to move beyond curiosity at the lab bench and explore questions previously deemed unattainable or too expensive.

Undoubtedly, to ensure the future and wellbeing of our current population we need to find better and more sustainable ways to produce necessary food sources. 

Image: Rob Finn in the main plenary room at COP26

At HoloFood we propose that one way of doing this is to examine the food chain through a new lens, hologenomics, where the host animal and all its associated microorganisms is considered as a single and intertwined entity. Through this lens, something that can appear as trivial - like the slight adjustment of salmon diets in aquaculture - can have a massive and positive environmental impact.
Fine-tuning even small elements of the food production system can decrease waste and ensure healthier and more sustainable feed solutions, either by reducing the need for antibiotics or opting for environmentally friendlier additives to the feed.

Thus, by better understanding how to tailor feed to embrace both the animal's genetic makeup and its microbiome as one unit allows for researchers and industry together to improve food production, decrease waste and encourage better and more sustainable feeding practices. 

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This project has received funding from the European Unionʼs Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 817729.