Projects / Programmes source: ARRS

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 May 29, 2023; A3 for period 2017-2021
Data for ARRS tenders ( 04.04.2019 – Programme tender , archive )
Database Linked records Citations Pure citations Average pure citations
WoS  505  13,285  11,791  23.35 
Scopus  524  14,503  12,941  24.7 
Researchers (33)
no. Code Name and surname Research area Role Period No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  28299  PhD Martina Avbelj  Biotechnical sciences  Researcher  2022 - 2023  68 
2.  50812  Katarina Belcijan  Biotechnical sciences  Technician  2022 - 2023  22 
3.  18332  PhD Neža Čadež  Biotechnical sciences  Researcher  2022 - 2023  308 
4.  27641  PhD Tjaša Danevčič  Biotechnical sciences  Researcher  2022 - 2023  170 
5.  24407  PhD Iztok Dogša  Biotechnical sciences  Researcher  2022 - 2023  184 
6.  33177  PhD Anna Dragoš  Biotechnical sciences  Researcher  2022 - 2023  90 
7.  21392  PhD Štefan Fujs  Biotechnical sciences  Researcher  2022 - 2023  87 
8.  18511  PhD Polona Jamnik  Biotechnical sciences  Researcher  2022 - 2023  883 
9.  11548  PhD Barbka Jeršek  Biotechnical sciences  Researcher  2022 - 2023  403 
10.  22491  PhD Anja Klančnik  Biotechnical sciences  Researcher  2022 - 2023  325 
11.  22312  PhD Gregor Kosec  Biotechnical sciences  Researcher  2022 - 2023  105 
12.  35370  PhD Eva Kovačec  Biotechnical sciences  Researcher  2022  44 
13.  22492  PhD Barbara Kraigher  Natural sciences and mathematics  Researcher  2022 - 2023  109 
14.  53622  Mojca Krajnc  Biotechnical sciences  Junior researcher  2022 - 2023  16 
15.  53271  PhD Aleksander Johannes Kruis  Biotechnical sciences  Researcher  2022 - 2023  12 
16.  17794  Simona Leskovec    Technician  2022 - 2023  25 
17.  55367  Valentina Malin  Biotechnical sciences  Technician  2022  15 
18.  05993  PhD Ines Mandić-Mulec  Biotechnical sciences  Principal Researcher  2022 - 2023  592 
19.  39099  PhD Katja Molan  Natural sciences and mathematics  Researcher  2022 - 2023  36 
20.  13542  PhD Hrvoje Petković  Biotechnical sciences  Researcher  2022 - 2023  289 
21.  53620  Eli Podnar  Biotechnical sciences  Junior researcher  2022 - 2023  20 
22.  56907  Maja Popović  Natural sciences and mathematics  Junior researcher  2022 - 2023 
23.  53621  Alen Pšeničnik  Biotechnical sciences  Junior researcher  2022 - 2023 
24.  51861  PhD Dina Ramić  Biotechnical sciences  Junior researcher  2022 - 2023  48 
25.  50527  PhD Lucija Slemc  Biotechnical sciences  Junior researcher  2022 - 2023  25 
26.  07030  PhD Sonja Smole - Možina  Biotechnical sciences  Researcher  2022 - 2023  1,067 
27.  55857  Eva Stare  Biotechnical sciences  Junior researcher  2022 - 2023 
28.  39997  PhD Meta Sterniša  Biotechnical sciences  Researcher  2022 - 2023  118 
29.  13005  PhD David Stopar  Biotechnical sciences  Researcher  2022 - 2023  449 
30.  38987  PhD Katarina Šimunović  Biotechnical sciences  Researcher  2022 - 2023  88 
31.  26540  PhD Polonca Štefanič  Biotechnical sciences  Researcher  2022 - 2023  166 
32.  36377  PhD Miha Tome  Biotechnical sciences  Researcher  2022  27 
33.  52659  Manca Volk  Biotechnical sciences  Junior researcher  2022 - 2023  14 
Organisations (2)
no. Code Research organisation City Registration number No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  0481  University of Ljubljana, Biotechnical Faculty  Ljubljana  1626914  64,869 
2.  2592  ACIES BIO, biotehnološke raziskave in razvoj, d.o.o. (Slovene)  Ljubljana  2226391  474 
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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