Within the Microbiota Vault initiative, a pioneer team of international experts has come together with the aim of safeguarding microbial diversity by supporting collection efforts and creating an institution for safe preservation, the Microbiota Vault. The initiative takes inspiration from the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, which safeguards the global diversity of food crop seeds.
The rationale for the Microbiota Vault initiative rests on the premises that a) microbial diversity is of great importance for human well-being and health and that b) microbial diversity is globally threatened by westernization, urbanization, and environmental change proceeding at an unprecedented pace, resulting in risks and lost opportunities. Microbiomes and diversity thereof are strongly connected between humans, animals, and the environment — a relationship that is generally described as “One Health” concept.
The Microbiota Vault initiative has decided to initiate the operational phase of the project in Switzerland and has designed a program for a two-year launch phase in collaboration with a science team from the ETH Zurich, University of Lausanne, University of Zurich, and Rutgers University.
Initiative Development and Fundraising:
Additional funding for the launch phase of the project was acquired, in the form of core funding by Oak Foundation, plus funding by Rockefeller Foundation enabling an extension of the scope from human-body-associated microbiota to environmental microbiota, specifically from fermented foods (in collaboration with the Periodic Table of Food Initiative (PTFI)).
Network and communication of the initiative:
Two Global Microbiome Network Symposia were held, for Latin America and for Africa. These symposia are being organized together with Rutgers University, the Gulbenkian Foundation, and local universities. They are designed to foster local microbiome research, engender local working collections, and to transfer knowledge.
The Microbiota Vault participated in the Rockefeller Bellagio Conference about the Implications of Digital Sequencing Information on the Governance of Plant & Genetic Resources.
Several Local Working Collections were identified as candidates to be included during the Microbiota Vault Launch. Work is ongoing on the legal framework for collection inclusion. Development and validation work for the freezing of samples and storage at different temperatures is ongoing. Establishment of the Bioinformatics pipeline for marker gene and metagenome analysis is proceeding with the identification of ontologies and data repositories that can be used later for metadata and data management.
Persons involved in the project
Last update to this project presentation 17.01.2023