Environmental Galenics: large-scale fortification of extant microbiomes with engineered bioremediation agents

New article "Environmental Galenics: large-scale fortification of extant microbiomes with engineered bioremediation agents" published in the journal Biological Sciences. Congratulations to our MIX-UP partner Víctor de Lorenzo to these great results!

Contemporary synthetic biology-based biotechnologies are generating tools and strategies for reprogramming genomes for specific purposes, including improvement and/or creation of microbial processes for tackling climate change. While such activities typically work well at a laboratory or bioreactor scale, the challenge of their extensive delivery to multiple spatio-temporal dimensions has hardly been tackled thus far. This state of affairs creates a research niche for what could be called Environmental Galenics (EG), i.e. the science and technology of releasing designed biological agents into deteriorated ecosystems for the sake of their safe and effective recovery. Such endeavour asks not just for an optimal performance of the biological activity at stake, but also the material form and formulation of the agents, their propagation and their interplay with the physico-chemical scenario where they are expected to perform. EG also encompasses adopting available physical carriers of microorganisms and channels of horizontal gene transfer as potential paths for spreading beneficial activities through environmental microbiomes. While some of these propositions may sound unsettling to anti-genetically modified organisms sensitivities, they may also fall under the tag of TINA (there is no alternative) technologies in the cases where a mere reduction of emissions will not help the revitalization of irreversibly lost ecosystems.

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