Systems Biology for Food, Feed, and Health

Wageningen University & Research has chosen Systems Biology as one of its focal points and invests considerably in this emerging research field. The Wageningen Centre for Systems Biology (WCSB) for Food, Feed, and Health is the condensation point of all Systems Biology developments at Wageningen University & Research.

Set up to coordinate all systems biology activities at Wageningen University & Research, WCSB will be the primary cooperation partner for research centres and industry in this specialist field. The WCSB’s research focuses on the entire spectrum of biological systems, from DNA to ecosystem, and involves topics relevant to plants, digestion and microbes.

Jaap Molenaar and Vitor Martins Dos Santos are the directors of the Centre, Christian Fleck is coordinator, and Carolien Pinkster the secretary. During the kick-off, June 2012, Molenaar explained that a 'Virtual Modeling Lab' will be formed within the WCSB, in which research concentrates on three topics: Virtual Plant, Virtual Microbe, and Virtual Gut. “Together, the researchers involved will soon become a vibrant community of modelers who work closely with experimentalists,” he continued. Martins Dos Santos spoke about the goal of translating successful research from the DNA level into concrete technologies and products.

Modelling projects

With the establishment of the WCSB and the financing of 14 systems biology research projects under its auspices, Wageningen University & Research aims to become a strategic partner in the field of research in systems biology. The projects fall apart into three categories:

  • Learning and predicting how plants respond to stress and the consequences this has for yield and productivity (Virtual Plant)
  • Understanding the functioning of the intestinal tract of mammals in relation to their diet to anticipate or remedy obesity (Virtual Gut)
  • Developing models that can help in the modification of microorganisms for the production of fine chemicals, commodity compounds and energy (Virtual Microbe)

Click on the corresponding figure for more information: