Projects / Programmes source: ARIS

Microbiolohy and biotechnology of food and environment

Research activity

Code Science Field Subfield
4.06.00  Biotechnical sciences  Biotechnology   
4.02.00  Biotechnical sciences  Animal production   

Code Science Field
2.09  Engineering and Technology  Industrial biotechnology 
2.08  Engineering and Technology  Environmental biotechnology  
microbiology, biotechnology, food quality and safety, environment, evolution, synthetic biology, omics, bacteria, yeast, phage, probiotics, pathogens, cell-cell signalling, kin discrimination, biofilms, fermentation, omics, advanced microscopy, anti-infectives, sustainable agriculture
Evaluation (rules)
source: COBISS
Data for the last 5 years (citations for the last 10 years) on April 20, 2024; A3 for period 2018-2022
Data for ARIS tenders ( 04.04.2019 – Programme tender , archive )
Database Linked records Citations Pure citations Average pure citations
WoS  523  15,029  13,459  25.73 
Scopus  544  16,518  14,855  27.31 
Researchers (34)
no. Code Name and surname Research area Role Period No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  28299  PhD Martina Avbelj  Biotechnology  Researcher  2022 - 2023  73 
2.  50812  Katarina Belcijan Pandur  Biotechnology  Technical associate  2022 - 2023  30 
3.  18332  PhD Neža Čadež  Biotechnology  Researcher  2022 - 2023  322 
4.  58338  Tjaša Čukajne  Biotechnology  Technical associate  2023 
5.  27641  PhD Tjaša Danevčič  Biotechnology  Researcher  2022 - 2023  183 
6.  24407  PhD Iztok Dogša  Biotechnology  Researcher  2022 - 2023  192 
7.  33177  PhD Anna Dragoš  Plant production  Researcher  2022 - 2023  114 
8.  21392  PhD Štefan Fujs  Biotechnology  Researcher  2022 - 2024  87 
9.  18511  PhD Polona Jamnik  Biotechnology  Researcher  2022 - 2023  904 
10.  11548  PhD Barbka Jeršek  Animal production  Researcher  2022 - 2023  419 
11.  51861  PhD Dina Jug  Biotechnology  Junior researcher  2022  58 
12.  22491  PhD Anja Klančnik  Animal production  Researcher  2022 - 2023  387 
13.  22312  PhD Gregor Kosec  Biotechnology  Researcher  2022 - 2024  127 
14.  35370  PhD Eva Kovačec  Plant production  Researcher  2022  70 
15.  22492  PhD Barbara Kraigher  Biology  Researcher  2022 - 2023  122 
16.  53622  PhD Mojca Krajnc  Biotechnology  Researcher  2022 - 2023  27 
17.  53271  PhD Aleksander Johannes Kruis  Biotechnology  Researcher  2022 - 2024  12 
18.  17794  Simona Leskovec    Technical associate  2022 - 2023  25 
19.  55367  Valentina Malin  Plant production  Technical associate  2022  16 
20.  05993  PhD Ines Mandić-Mulec  Biotechnology  Head  2022 - 2024  639 
21.  39099  PhD Katja Molan  Biochemistry and molecular biology  Researcher  2022 - 2023  41 
22.  13542  PhD Hrvoje Petković  Biotechnology  Researcher  2022 - 2023  300 
23.  53620  PhD Eli Podnar  Plant production  Researcher  2022 - 2023  28 
24.  56907  Maja Popović  Biochemistry and molecular biology  Junior researcher  2022 - 2023 
25.  53621  Alen Pšeničnik  Biotechnology  Junior researcher  2022 - 2023 
26.  50527  PhD Lucija Slemc  Biotechnology  Junior researcher  2022  27 
27.  07030  PhD Sonja Smole - Možina  Animal production  Researcher  2022 - 2023  1,104 
28.  55857  Eva Stare  Biotechnology  Junior researcher  2022 - 2023 
29.  39997  PhD Meta Sterniša  Veterinarian medicine  Researcher  2022 - 2023  130 
30.  13005  PhD David Stopar  Plant production  Researcher  2022 - 2023  469 
31.  38987  PhD Katarina Šimunović  Biotechnology  Researcher  2022 - 2023  104 
32.  26540  PhD Polonca Štefanič  Biotechnology  Researcher  2022 - 2023  200 
33.  36377  PhD Miha Tome  Biotechnology  Researcher  2022  31 
34.  52659  Manca Volk  Animal production  Junior researcher  2022 - 2023  18 
Organisations (2)
no. Code Research organisation City Registration number No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  0481  University of Ljubljana, Biotechnical Faculty  Ljubljana  1626914  66,295 
2.  2592  ACIES BIO, biotehnološke raziskave in razvoj, d.o.o. (Slovene)  Ljubljana  2226391  401 
Microorganisms are the most abundant and diverse inhabitants on the Earth with significant impact on the health of plants, animals and humans, on the cycling of substances in nature and thus on the quality and purity of water, food, soil and atmosphere. They are also the driving force of most biotechnological processes and applications, and an underexploited source of new biologically active substances. Therefore, new knowledge based on research in the field of microbiology and biotechnology is fundamental and a hot topic locally and globally. Our goal is to create state-of-the-art knowledge and, through hypothesis driven research, gain in-depth knowledge of the structure and function of microorganisms (bacteria and fungi), of their ecology, diversity and evolution, and investigate them not only as single entities but also in multicellular settings, in interactions with hosts and in complex environments. We believe that discovery of fundamental knowledge is needed to develop cutting-edge innovations for biofilm management, improve food quality and safety an develop novel chemicals and bio-based products for human and animal health improvement and for sustainable agriculture, which is in line with priorities of Horizon Europe. Program P4-0116 explores the role if microorganisms in five work packages: 1. Molecular mechanisms, ecology, and evolution of microbial social interactions; 2. Microbial biofilms; 3. Food safety, quality and stability; 4. Microbial communities of fermented foods and directed evolution to improve fermentation. 5. Synthetic biology for health and sustainable environment. All these areas are of utmost importance and will bring new knowledge publishable in top scientific journals. The program connects members of two chairs at the Biotechnical Faculty of the University of Ljubljana (Chair of Microbiology and Chair of Biotechnology, Microbiology and Food Safety) and the innovative biotech company Acies Bio, which has, based on their own technology, succeeded to found two additional spin-offs that are supported by strong external industrial funding. Program members publish their research in the most prestigious journals and actively protect their intellectual property through international patent applications and patents, which sets the basis and is necessary for fruitful collaboration with industry. The program provides excellent research environment for the development and education of young researchers and an innovative platform that will develop a more effective application of knowledge for human health and sustainable environmental protection through an in-depth understanding of microorganisms.
Significance for science
Microorganisms are arguably the most important organisms of our planet that influence society and environment. In our Program group we combine the wide expertise in microbiology, biotechnology and food science with the hypothesis driven research and the state-of-the-art methods for ground breaking science (as evidenced by our past publication record) to provide new innovative solutions for key global challenges related to sustainable agriculture, clean water, food safety and quality, anti-infective and anticancer drugs. These are hot topics in biology, ecology, and society, and are critical for the discovery of new knowledge in cell-cell signalling, kin discrimination, interspecific sociality, horizontal gene transfer, and host-parasite interactions. This research is essential in development of new agents and methods to control pathogens, the spread of antibiotic resistance and improve probiotics for plants and animals. Similarly, the investigations of the biofilm physical and molecular properties, cell adaptation, and novel targets for biofilm control will allow us to develop methods to detect and control persister cells and combat antimicrobial resistance. Through development of efficient barrier technology, we will reduce pathogen and spoilage contamination and enhanced microbiological safety, develop efficient packaging biomaterials and investigate potential to inhibit microbial adhesion and growth with new innovative metal-based materials. The fundamental knowledge on microbial communities and strain improvement will be integrated in improved wine/beer fermentation technologies. Novel anti-infective drugs are urgently needed and we will continue to exploit the untapped potential natural resources for novel metabolites via genome mining enriched by synthetic biology and biosynthetic engineering. We expect that the improved biosynthetic enzymes will generate new analogues and strains for application in medicine and sustainable agriculture. Due to the interdisciplinary structure of the program and a tight link to industry a strong tendency to innovate is ensured. The power of the program lies in combining the expertise on model organisms in vitro with the expertise on food safety and ecology of microbial communities in situ (e.g. food, soil, aquatic systems) together with the state of the art molecular biology, microscopy, comparative genomics, directed and experimental evolution, chemo-biosynthetic, transcriptomics, metabolomics and bioinformatics techniques. We predict that we will be in a position to find new breakthrough discoveries of microbial sociality and answers to key ecological questions related to the stability of genomes, adaptation and diversity in mixed species communities important in food fermentation and other natural ecosystems. We are convinced that the proposed program will provide a nurturing and highly motivating milieu for the young researchers and will attract bright minds from abroad. The impact and innovative edge of our research program has been demonstrated through successful external founding, publications in best journals and strong ongoing collaborations with the best research groups nationally and internationally. This is reassurance that the proposed new program has a solid foundation to build upon and will continue to provide the cutting-edge science also in the next financing period. We will continue to share our discoveries with general public through interviews and social mediaw By beiing role models to younger generations and motivational supervisors to our students and PhD graduates we will continue to indirectly and importantly influence the development of science.
Significance for the country
The program group P4-0116 combines fundamental and applied research activities in the area of food technology, pharmaceutical biotechnology, industrial bioprocess development, and environmental technology. This knowledge urgently needed for the transition to a sustainable economy and society , which needs sustainable food production and food safety, discovery and development of better drugs, development of novel environmentally friendly production technologies to provide environmental safety, preserve biodiversity and ensure competitiveness of Slovenian and European bio-based economy. During the last financing period of the program, our industrial partner Acies Bio hand its partners have attracted millions of dollars of external money to lunch two new spin offs. The proposed program is aligned with the Smart specialization strategy of Slovenia and with the European Green Deal policy, especially in the areas of Sustainable agriculture/Farm to Fork, Biodiversity and Climate action. Our initiatives towards improvement of plant /animal health and preservation of soil health and water quality, assure numerous opportunities for successful project applications in the future. With the probiotic market expected to garner $57.4 billion by 2022 and the global Biocontrol and biofertilizer markets (agricultural microbials) estimated to reach $7 billion by 2024, our projects will have a positive impact on economic development as our inventions, protected by patent application, serve as an excellent stepping stone to develop new solutions and innovations. Strategies to control and combat harmful biofilms, which only in the United States cause damage of 500 billion dollars are urgently needed. The project addresses this urgent problem and we will provide solutions for safe, stable and high-quality food and improved antibacterial surfaces. The use of natural microbial biodiversity for the production of novel fermented beverages will be achieved by exposing wild yeasts and industrial strains to the directed evolution. This will assure innovative solutions for our partners in the beer/wine industry in Slovenia. Efforts to further decipher complex enzymatic systems involved in biosynthesis of secondary metabolites will have a direct and immediate impact on the development of robust and reproducible strategies for production of novel natural products by our industrial partner. We have extensive research ties with industrial partners and are collaborating with leading Slovenian industry. We will to invest in industrial collaborations and thus contribute directly to competitiveness of the Slovenian economy. We also expect that the work of the proposed programme will generate novel Intellectual property (IP), which will be protected with international patent applications and patents. This will further increase the competitiveness and international recognition of the Program group, and in particular of the SME industrial partner ACIES BIO, which already has a strong record of development, IP protection and commercialization of innovative technologies and is employing many young scientists who have in the past received their scientific training within this Program group. The P4-116 program team offers due to its innovative research and excellent educational environment for students from Slovenia and abroad. Our PhD graduates are due to their expertise easily employable. Moreover, we have been exceptionally active in organizing local and international scientific conferences to promote Slovenian science, economy and culture, and this tradition will be maintained in the future. The knowledge generated by the group contributes to the improvement of human, animal and plant health, food safety, and protection of natural and cultural heritage. This commitment remains high on our priority list. We are planning to further improve the quality of life of our citizens by improving antimicrobial strategies (i.e. development of new antimicrobials, novel bioactive molecules, new antimicrobial surfaces, probiotics, cell factories), improving food technology (i.e. new fermentation products), and food safety (i.e. combat of food pathogens), promote soil health by developing greener biologicals and plant growth promoting agents.
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