Using the potential of microbial diversity in innovative ways:
By 2028 we will be in the age of microbiology, with micro-organisms contributing to the majority of industrial processes. We urgently need to explore their diversity and potential.
This will result in using microorganisms and their enzymes to improve human health, increase crop yield, recycle waste products and eventually replace much of the fossil(ised) economy.
This matters, because with an increasing population and increasing demand for animal protein, agriculture must become more efficient, as there are finite resources on earth there is an urgent need to reduce or recycle waste, and a moral requirement to reduce pollution from industry.
Resources to achieve this will be
· Public support so that people are aware of, and in agreement with, using microorganisms and their enzymes to ensure a more sustainable future.
· The political will to look forward, by investing in discovery programmes focussed on the microbial communities of Australia in ancient rocks, in highly leached soils, and from the unique flora and fauna that occurs in diverse climatic regions. These programmes will include not just what is there, but how these organisms are able to survive in such unusual environments. An outcome with be to determine how this ability can be exploited in novel ways in new industries.
· Investment from the extractive industries in microbial discovery in low pH and highly saline environments in order to develop enhanced biomining and bioleaching of mineral ores. This will enable these techniques to be applied to a wider range of materials, under a greater range of physical condition than is possible at present.
· Investment from the agricultural industries for developing microbial products for the better use of waste products. An example is the use of fungal enzymes for recycling keratin from animal waste into nitrogen-rich products such as plant fertiliser and animal feed.
· Investment by manufacturing industries in the use of microbial enzymes to minimise waste and pollution, so that this becomes part of their licence to operate. Examples are the use of fungal enzymes in the pulp and paper industry, and in tanning leather.
This list could go on….and on….