Growth Fund approves funding for Holomicrobiome project

200 million euros earmarked for comprehensive research into micro-organisms

In the third project round of the National Growth Fund – Field Research, Development and Innovation – 200 million euros has been earmarked for research into how microbiomes in all parts of our food system combine to form a single large network: a ‘holomicrobiome’. One of the goals of the research is to make drinking water and groundwater safer and healthier. All the knowledge institutes in the Netherlands that study microbiomes are involved in the initiative. KWR is participating as a partner and contributing expertise about the microbiome related to the water cycle.

Towards a Healthier Holomicrobiome’ is the title of the project that was recently awarded funding from the National Growth Fund. It is a clear description of what the public-private initiative aims to achieve, says microbiologist Paul van der Wielen. “A holomicrobiome is a kind of ‘microbiological jungle’ that is all around us. It is the sum total of all the communities of bacteria, viruses and fungi that – however microscopic – have an incredible effect on the health of humans, animals, plants and our environment. By investing now in knowledge, knowledge valorisation, education and human capital, the Netherlands will be on the map as a pioneer in microbiome applications ten years from now.”

World of opportunities

New technologies are making it increasingly possible to measure, map, understand and predict microbiomes. This knowledge opens up a world of opportunities: from healthier diets to medical treatments, from sustainable and circular agriculture and livestock farming to better soil and water quality and lower greenhouse gas and nutrient emissions.

Healthier groundwater and drinking water

The approval from the National Growth Fund represents a substantial investment in basic and applied research into microbiomes and how they interact. This knowledge should provide solutions for societal and ecological issues such as making groundwater and drinking water safer and healthier.

Now the funding has been approved by the National Growth Fund, the proposal will be coordinated with the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality. The earmarked funds amount to EUR 200 billion over a period of ten years.