Working Group:

Food Systems Mirobiome


Understanding the complexity and benefits of microbiome in the context of food systems

Everybody and everything is surrounded by microbiomes and understanding what microbiomes do, what they are, and how they interact is a new scientific frontier made now reachable by rapid advances in genomic mapping, robotics, and chemical analysis. What we know and understand so far is that the microbiome has essential impacts on our health and on the food we produce, on plants and animals and on ecosystems in general. Unravelling their complexity offers huge potential for innovation and will be a major game changer in the way we manage our planet's resources to obtain our food and improve our health.

To this end, the European Commission initiated the Microbiome Working Group under the International Bioeconomy Forum. A first meeting of this Working Group took place back to back to the first IBF Plenary Meeting in 2017 in Brussels. The roadmap of the Working Group has been finalised during a second meeting in Ottawa in 2018. The third meeting of this group, which took place in February 2020 in New Zealand, facilitated the progress on the different deliverables.

Focus Areas

The Microbiome covers a vast range of scientific fields, from health, agriculture, environment, climate change, etc. It is not feasible for one country to tackle all, or even individual fields, in a complete and satisfactory manner. It is for this reason that an IBF Microbiome Working Group is proposed:

  • to oversee a concerted international effort combining global resources and objectives; and
  • to provide a more effective longer-term impact.

Key Deliverables

The Microbiome Working Group will use well-established channels of communication with several international partners and organisations.

The strategic long-term objectives of the working group cover the following five principles:

  • Advocacy
  • R&I Priority Setting
  • Communication and Training
  • Funding
  • Regulation


Activities of the IBF Microbiome Working Group include:

  • A peer reviewed publication
  • A letter of intent for further collaboration
  • Pilot projects on wheat microbiome


Lead: European Commission

Directorate General for Research and Innovation - Bioeconomy and Food Systems Unit

Members: New Zealand, Canada, USA, European Union, Australia, South Africa, FAO