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Environmental and internal microbiome

Session coordinators: Lucette Flandroy & Ellen Decaestecker

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Session report available here.


When thinking about biodiversity, one often thinks of a variety of animals and plants, whereas the planet is also full of microbial diversity. A big part of this microscopic world contributes to equilibrium and cycles of the ecosystems, and a small proportion of them have already been used by man for their pharmaceutical and other industrial purposes. Not only the planet but also our bodies are complex ecosystems, containing ~ ten times more microorganisms than human cells, on our skins, gut, airways, urogenital tracts. We start to understand that, next to some pathogenic strains for man and other animals, many of these microorganisms, from various phyla and originating from the external world, have co-evolved with man since the pre-historical times and have useful if not crucial roles for our physical and mental health. They participate in regulatory functions inside our body ecosystem, but also can be intermediary insuring a constant dialogue between our slowly adaptative complex bodies and the external world in evolution where these microbes can adapt by rapid gene innovation.


Modern sanitary norms and products and reduced contact of people with the natural environment in cities implies reduced diversity in human microbiota that starts to be linked with various chronic diseases (link with session on Nature benefits for health). A better understanding of the specific roles of various environmental microbes, of their interactions with each other and with our bodies, should help avoiding or curing chronic physical and mental diseases associated with urban life in developed countries but also in fast growing cities of developing countries.  


In this session, we will review current knowledge on this issue, and suggest, on that basis, recommendations to move forward in science, policy and practice.


Session coordinators: Lucette Flandroy & Ellen Decaestecker

Introductory speakers: 

Eeva Furman, Lasse Ruokolainen and Tari Haahtela ( Professor emeritus, Skin & Allergy Hospital, Helsinki University Hospital; board member of the World Allergy Organization ) : the legacy of I.Hanski, the “biodiversity hypothesis” (impact of the microbiome on the immune system  and inflammatory processes) and exemplary Finnish plans on the Microbiome.  

Xavier Stephenne  (Professor in Pediatric Gastroenterology, Clinique St-Luc, UCLouvain, Belgium):  fecal material transplantation (in case of antibiotic resistance): scientific, practical, legal aspects.



Lasse Ruokolainen (U. of Helsinki, FI): Ilkka Hanski’ s legacy to allergy research: the environment-microbiota-health axis


Jeroen Raes (VIB-KULeuven, BE): About the normal variability of the human intestinal microbiome: towards population-level microbiome monitoring: the Flemish gut flora project


Hubert Plovier ( P. Cani’ s collaborator, UCLouvain, BE): Cross-talks between gut microbiome and host physiology – Focus on metabolic diseases


Maria-Carlotta Dao ( K. Clément’s collab., coordinator of EU project Metacardis; Institute of Cardiometabolism& Nutrition, Paris, FR): Gut microbiota and cardiometabolic disease risk


Theofilos Poutahidis (U. of Thessaloniki, GR): Gut Bacteria and Carcinogenesis


Gerard Clarke (U. of Cork, IR): The Gut Microbiome and Brain function


Xavier Stephenne (UCLouvain, BE): Fecal transplantation and multiresistant germs


Gabrielle Berg (Graz U. of Technology, AU): The impact of microbial diversity of plants for health


Bernard Taminiau (ULiège, BE): FLORPRO project: selection of beneficial bacteria from chilled foodstuffs to protect them from bacterial spoilage and increase their shelf life.


Ellen Decaestecker(KULeuven, BE): Genotype-dependant microbiota drives zooplankton resistance to toxic cyanobacteria


Kathleen D’ Hondt (Dept EWI, Flemish Govt, BE): Policy messages from the workshop on ” The Microbiome Diet & Health: Assessing Gaps in Science & Innovation


Eeva Furman (Finnish Environment Institute ( SYKE ) ) ‘s concluding speech, based on Ilkka Hanski’ s legacy and Finnish plans ( with Tari Haahtela contribution ): The biodiversity hypothesis: how to operationalize it ?  



Related posters:


-          Alfonso Benítez-Páez & Yolanda Sanz (Institute of Agrochemistry and Food Technology, Valencia, ES): My New Gut project ( 7the FP EU )

-          Sébastien Massart (ULiège, BE): Insights gained from metagenomic sequencing of appel fruit surface


last modified on 31 May 2016