iFAST seminar professor Willy Verstraete on microbial cleantech

The International Forum on Advanced Environmental Sciences and Technology (iFAST) aims to provide an interactive forum to bring eminent scientists together to share their most recent advances in environmental sciences and technology with interested students, faculty, and other researchers. It also provides an opportunity to foster interdisciplinary networking among environmental researchers, engineers, and the general audience.

The 1st of September 2021, professor Willy Verstraete shared his views on “Engineering microbial cleantech for
environmental sustainability

The discussions about the actions to be taken for planetary sustainability rarely deal with issues related to
microbiology, microbial ecology, microbial technology. Yet, there is a lot that the latter can bring in to improve
the burdens of climate change which we face. The key feature is that scientists and engineers must come to
more effective management of the microbiomes in soils, aqueous environments and in relation to bodily
systems such as the rumen, the gastro-intestinal tract, the skin … To do this properly, some generic principles
in relation to concepts such as microbial economics, Pareto distribution curves, top predator involvements,
biostability boundary conditions and reliable stochasticity need to be better defined and considered. Based on
such concepts, microbiologists can take leadership to speak out on which biotech practices better be
downscaled (e.g., cultivating crops needing lots of mineral nitrogen, activated sludge treatment, using
ruminants to convert fiber) and which deserve to be fully promoted (e.g., full treatment of wastewater to
potable water, anaerobic digestion, production of microbial protein, use of probiotics). A major issue is that
the consumer and the regulator must be convinced that working with and producing products by natural
consortia of microorganisms can be done in a safe and quality assured way .

The full seminar is accessible here.