The goal of the four-year, sixteen million euro project is to make feed and food production better, safer and more sustainable, and to drive further innovation through basic and applied research.
”FFoQSI would create a unique hallmark of food chain integration in Europe for countries—particularly where small and medium size food supply chains are essential,” stated the FFOQSI project coordinator, Professor Martin Wagner of the University of Veterinary Medicine in Vienna.
The effort spans 12 projects that address specific issues relating to the production of food of plant and animal origin, intertwined with an overarching innovation platform that bundles cutting-edge technologies for use in either pre-harvest or post-harvest quality assurance.
“Novel technologies such as next-generation sequencing and advanced physico-chemical analysis are going to revolutionize the fields of molecular biology and sensing technology in the very near future. These technologies can be used in plant science and animal science but also in food and consumer science,” explained Prof Wagner.
“BIOMIN has been the strongest company-based supporter of FFoQSI since the days when the idea was generated,” commented Prof Wagner.
“As a key player in developing innovative solutions for the feed and food industries, we see a clear rationale for employing our extensive research & development capabilities here,” noted Dr Gerd Schatzmayr, Research Director at the BIOMIN Research Center. “It affords us a chance to further develop our longstanding R&D partnerships with leading institutions in Austria and beyond.”
Specifically, BIOMIN will take part in 3 distinct projects, related to mycotoxin detection, phytogenic feed additives and antibiotic resistance in livestock.
The first project, conducted in cooperation with the Center for Analytical Chemistry at the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna (BOKU), aims to improve detection of mycotoxins and other contaminants in crops, and builds on the state-of-the-art liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) technology.
“Sophisticated multi-mycotoxin methods, such as Spectrum 380®, allow the identification of over 400 mycotoxins and metabolites in one go,” explained Dr Schatzmayr. “This has really opened the door to understanding emerging potential threats to animals and humans. We hope to widen the scope in order to be able to detect hundreds of additional toxins.”
The second project further explores the effects of Digestarom®, a phytogenic feed additive (PFA), on swine gut health, in cooperation with the Institute for Animal Nutrition, Livestock Products and Nutrition Physiology at the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna (BOKU).
“Research has already revealed anti-inflammatory and gut protective properties of plant-derived substances that improve gut performance,” stated Dr Schatzmayr. “Our aim is to further elaborate the mode of action of PFAs.”
The third project addresses antibiotic resistance in livestock. It will more closely examine the resistome –the full set of antibiotic resistance genes– of poultry and swine, and how it is affected by feed additives.
“For several years now, we have been conducting research into the mode of action of antibiotic resistance using advanced tools such as high throughput gene sequencing and bioinformatics,” detailed Dr Schatzmayr. “Thus far, results have shown that the replacement of in-feed antibiotics by application of novel feed additives can reduce the presence of antibiotic resistance genes. Our aim is to gain further insight on the implications closer to farm level.”
The Austrian Research Promotion Agency (FFG) has approved the Austrian Competence Centre for Feed and Food Quality, Safety and Innovation (FFoQSI) to operate from 2017 through 2020 as a Competence Centers for Excellent Technologies (COMET) program initiative. It entails 12 projects with involvement from 6 scientific and 34 company partners representing 5 countries.
The commitment of company partners includes the financing of a center of excellence in agri-food chain research. The K1 Center is seated in Tulln, Austria and has satellite locations at the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna (BOKU), the University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna (Vetmeduni Vienna) and the University of Applied Sciences Upper Austria.