Searching for new compounds in marine microbiomes

Launch of new Horizon Europe project: BLUETOOLS

Contact information
Project Coordinator: Aurelio Hidalgo

Communications manager: Luiza Beirão Campos 


Biodiversity – living organisms, from microbes to rainforests – is vital to the health of the planet and our own health, food security, and even our businesses. For example, sixty percent of the novel bioactive compounds developed for multiple uses in industries such as pharmacy and agriculture come from microorganisms. However, most of these compounds are derived from land, while marine sources are still underexplored.

Marine microorganisms are the most abundant inhabitants of our planet and are key players in the global biogeochemical cycles and ocean health. Still, they represent unexplored biodiversity and an untapped source of economic development of new products.

Bluetools, a new project which started today, will boost the development of the European Blue Bioeconomy by sustainably exploring marine microbiomes. The blue bioeconomy employs over 4.5 million people and relies on renewable, living aquatic resources such as algae, sponges, jellyfish, or microorganisms to deliver a wide variety of products, processes, and services. By developing new ways to explore marine microbiomes sustainably, Bluetools hopes to help Europe accelerate the transition towards a net zero-carbon emissions, circular, bio- based, and sustainable economy.

The project was kicked-off with an online meeting involving partners from seven Europeans countries. Bluetools will unravel the potential of marine microbiomes for healthier oceans and the generation of new products, processes, and services. The project will integrate multiple fields of research to develop tools that support fast, efficient, and sustainable exploration of microbiomes, avoiding the disadvantages of conventional biodiscovery.

This general objective comprises six goals:

· Reduce the environmental impact of bioprospecting by investigating alternative and sustainable sources of microbiomes.

· Establish innovative cultivation and enrichment procedures using minimal volumes to maximise the potential of marine microbiomes for environmental and industrial application

· Develop beyond the state-of-the-art bioinformatic tools to overcome the current limitations of metagenomic data processing pipelines for genome-resolved, high-quality data, portability, and interoperability.

· Use a fast and versatile discovery approach to discover microbes, proteins, and genes for several applications, including pharma and medicine, materials, environmental applications, and agriculture.

. Provide a pathway for the generated solution products to reach the market through specialized training, exploitation, dissemination, communication, and engagement with key societal actors.

· Ensure the cost and environmental performance of BLUETOOLS’s microbiome-based solutions are competitive through the integrated use of Life Cycle Assessment (LCA).