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EU funds international mycobiomics project involving Thailands Biotec

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The European Commission has awarded Thailand’s National Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (Biotec) €1.37 million (Bt51.5 million) for interdisciplinary research and transnational mobility in a mycobiomics project involving eight institutes from seven countries.

The project, to “exploit the mycobiota of Asia, Africa and Europe for beneficial metabolites and potential biocontrol agents using Omics techniques (mycobiomics)”, is led by Prof Marc Stadler of the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research, Germany, in cooperation with Dr Jennifer Luangsa-ard, leader of the Plant Microbe Interaction Research Team, and research institutes from Europe and Africa.

Mycobiomics focuses on both basic and applied mycology to explore beneficial secondary metabolites for the development of antibiotics and eco-friendly alternatives to conventional pesticides through an international network of research organisations and staff exchange.

“Mycobiomics embarks upon our success of the H2020-MSCA-Rise project, the Golden Mycological Triangle, joining forces to exploit mycological biodiversity for novel anti-infectives and other beneficial metabolites [GoMyTri],” explained Dr Luangsa-ard, Thailand’s co-principle investigator.

Since 2014, GoMyTri has laid the groundwork for interdisciplinary collaboration among leading research institutes from Germany, the Netherlands and Thailand.

“Our previous collaborative research, transnational mobility and cross-sector training have resulted in several co-publications in high impact factor journals and the development of project management skills for project members,” she said.

Mycobiomics, as a result, continues to solidify the consortium and diversify know-how by involving prestigious research institutes and universities from Austria, the Czech Republic, Kenya and South Africa.

“We will implement Omics technologies to expand the focus of Mycobiomics research on fungal biodiversity and ecology, and potential applications of fungi in biotechnology by using genomics, molecular biology and transcriptomics to discover novel useful secondary metabolites and identify candidates for anti-infective drugs,” she elaborated.

Furthermore, mycobiomics aims to explore two distinctive fungal genera that are crucial in global agriculture – fusarium spp and trichoderma spp.

“The knowledge and technology shared within our consortium will enable scientists to tackle health and agricultural issues posed by detrimental fungi and how to combat them,” she added.

Mycobiomics is a four-year interdisciplinary project with eight research institutes and universities from seven countries:

* The Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research – Braunschweig, Germany

* Institute of Microbiology, Czech Academy of Sciences – Czech Republic

* Westerdijk Fungal Biodiversity Institute – The Netherlands

* University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences – Vienna, Austria

* Austrian Institute of Technology – Austria

* National Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology – Thailand

* Egerton University – Kenya

* Forestry and Agricultural Biotechnology Institute, University of Pretoria – South Africa.

Published : April 21, 2021