The microbiome is a collection of microorganisms that live in the environment. These can be bacteria, yeasts (fungi), viruses, etc. In agricultural land, they are everywhere. They determine crop productivity, but also soil health. They are crucial for plant growth, resistance to stress (including the resulting diseases) and climate change. Besides, plants cannot live without bacteria and no food is 100% sterile. The most important thing is to try to keep this microbiome stable and pathogen-free.
One of the objectives of the chair is to understand the language of these microorganisms, how they interact with each other. This knowledge will be used to confirm or modify our practices. In agriculture, there are biostimulants and other products that aim to boost a particular microorganism, but are they effective? Will the microorganism we decided to help prevail against everyone present? By analyzing the functioning of microorganisms, this is what we will learn. Thus, we will be able to apply the right products in the right places. We can also come to the conclusion that what we are doing is not the right method and that we have to find something else.
It is true that it is rare for a city to invest in this type of research, but in this case, it is a real collaborative project that began a year and a half ago. The City will grant $100,000 per year for three years in this chair. This is part of its project to develop the Carré Laval innovation district, where several knowledge-based companies will be located. His interest in the microbiome comes from the fact that 30% of Laval’s territory is in an agricultural zone. She did a market study and concluded that this economic sector was promising with the possibility of strong growth, even internationally.
Not yet, because we need other financial partners. Laval is the leader who opens the parade, but we need to create other associations. We must also form a multidisciplinary team with people from a wide range of backgrounds, including artificial intelligence. In all, we are talking about a team of about twenty researchers. We want to start the first research within a year and a half.
The chair was created with the idea of democratizing research, which is rare in our sector. Our offices are in the making, but right now we are located at the Center Armand-Frappier Santé Biotechnologie and what we want is to give the public access to scientific culture. We plan to make presentations to demystify the microbiome and hold consultations with round tables to discuss with citizens. People are curious, I’m sure we’ll pique their interest. There are no dates scheduled yet, but it will be soon.