MetaPlat: Development of an Easy-to-use Metagenomics Platform for Agricultural Science

The aim of this project is to bring together experts from the academic and non-academic sectors and to create an easy-to-use integrated hardware and software platform to enable the rapid analysis of large metagenomic datasets.

It will provide actionable insights into probiotic supplement usage, methane production and feed conversion efficiency in cattle.

In the recent years, the number of projects or studies producing very large quantities of sequencing data – analysing microbial communities’ make-up and their interactions with the environment – has increased. Yet, the depth of analysis done is very superficial and represents an inefficient use of available information and financial resources.

This project aims to address these deficiencies and will study the change within microbial communities, under various conditions in cattle guts and will lead to significant impact on probiotic supplement usage, methane production and feed conversion efficiency in cattle. To succeed, we propose to develop faster and more accurate analytic platforms in order to fully utilise the datasets generated. By focusing on better hardware and software platforms, better expertise and training, this project will pave the way for a more optimal usage of metagenomic datasets, thus reducing the number of animals necessary to be engaged in such studies. This will ensure better and more economic animal welfare.

The MetaPlat project’s objective is a mixture of innovative research, focused application and commercial awareness. The core objectives being pursued are:

  • Sample gut collection, from cattle, for sequencing;
  • Collection of publically available databases – to create a new classification of previously unclassified sequences, using machine learning algorithms;
  • Development of accurate classification algorithms;
  • Real-time or time-efficient comparison analyses;
  • Production of statistical and visual representations, conveying more useful information;
  • Platform integration;
  • Provide insights into probiotic supplement usage, methane production and feed conversion efficiency in cattle.

The project is part of the EU funding program Marie Skłodowska-Curie RISE Action (MSCA RISE) as an employee exchange. The project format is to promote international and intersectoral cooperation through the exchange of personnel and knowledge. The aim is to strengthen cooperation between academic and non-academic institutions.

The outputs of the project will lead to significant and lasting impact on the innovation potential of the individual researchers, their host organisations as well as impacting in a much wider sense at a European and global level.

Partners of the Consortium:

  • University of Ulster, Computer Science Research Institute, Ireland
  • University of Edinburgh, EPCC - Edinburgh Parallel Computing Centre, United Kingdom
  • NSilico Lifescience Ltd., Ireland
  • Scotland’s Rural College – SRUC, Scotland
  • FTK - Forschungsinstitut für Telekommunikation und Kooperation, Germany
  • Teagasc - Agriculture and Food Development Authority, Ireland