Centre for Biotechnology and Fine Chemistry celebrates the importance of the microbiome for health, the environment and the agrifood sector

Friday, February 3, 2023 - 11:45

“Community microbiomes & microbiome communities” was the theme of the first CBQF Day, the most recent initiative of the Centre for Biotechnology and Fine Chemistry of the Faculty of Biotechnology of the Universidade Católica Portuguesa in Porto. The event consisted of two parts: the first, in which 21 CBQF researchers presented part of their work on different microbiomes, and the second, which included the presence of the President of the Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT). The event thus intended to address the fundamental importance that the microbiome has in human health, agriculture and food, and environmental protection.


Centro de Biotecnologia e Química Fina celebra a importância do microbioma para a saúde, ambiente e setor agroalimentar


Throughout the afternoon, the participants had the opportunity to listen to lectures on “Microbiomes @CBQF”, by Manuela Pintado (director of CBQF/ESB/UCP); “Unlocking microbiomes for human, animal and environmental health”, by researcher Hauke ​​Smidt (Wageningen University and Research); “From Health to Disease: microbiota-host interaction”, by Diogo Pestana (Nova Medical School/CINTESIS); “The human microbiome: beyond the gut”, by Benedita Sampaio Maia (i3S); “Microbiome Ambassadors: The Microbiome Community in the SFS Network - a group to break silos & discuss microbiomes related topics”; “Discovery of new thermophilic enzymes from metagenome analysis”, by Conceição Egas (CNC); “Human gut microbiome: general aspects and modulation in the clinical practice”, by Manuela Estevinho (Centro Hospitalar Vila Nova de Gaia/ Espinho).


Centro de Biotecnologia e Química Fina celebra a importância do microbioma para a saúde, ambiente e setor agroalimentar 2


The event allowed “to show the growth of CBQF, as an Associate Laboratory with more than 245 researchers who develop their work in 4 lines of research - Environment and Resources; Food and Nutrition; Biobased and Biomedical Products; and Fermentation Solutions – which has 7 platforms, namely in Analytical Chemistry; Bioactives; Cell Culture and Molecular Biology; Structural Analysis; Consumer and Sensory Science; Kitchen Lab; and Packaging and Materials”, said Manuela Pintado.

In total, the CBQF has more than 245 researchers (48% of whom have a PhD) and holds 43 active patents. Over the last five years of its existence, more than 170 research projects have been developed, with a funding volume of around 25 million euros. Also noteworthy is the publication in more than 880 papers (85% in partnership with other partners from 102 countries), with 170 partner companies, nationally and internationally.


Why the microbiome?

The microbiome describes a community of different microorganisms that occupy a given environment, and how the different microorganisms interact with each other and with the surrounding conditions. Microbiome research has become a scientific area of ​​high relevance as an integral part of many fields of science, including the areas mentioned above. In this sense, “it is fundamental to stimulate the investigation of microbiomes that connect ecosystems, promote co-creation processes to develop new applications, ensure education and literacy to increase community awareness, stimulate adequate regulatory structures and allow national and international networks in the area”, stressed Manuela Pintado, director of CBQF. This will enable the development of biotechnology applications and product innovations, making use of the functions of the microbiome and to promote more sustainable and resilient systems. This event thus made it possible to “share the diversity of microbiomes and create a space for discussion between researchers to understand the fundamental role of microbiomes,” said Manuela Pintado.