VIB scientists map the Belgian beer landscape in a new book


Miguel Roncoroni and Kevin Verstrepen (VIB-KU Leuven Center for Microbiology) put their minds – and their mouths – to work, on behalf of beer enthusiasts the world over. “As scientists, we try to understand the world through observation, experimentation and reason,” Miguel explains. “With this in mind, we tackled the interesting challenge of investigating Belgian beer – using science.” The result is a new book: ‘Belgian Beer – Tested and Tasted’. You don’t want to miss this one!

Gene editing just got easier


Toon Swings and Jan Michiels (VIB-KU Leuven) together with David Marciano (Baylor College of Medicine) and an international team of researchers have made CRISPR technology more accessible and standardized by simplifying its complex implementation. The simpler, faster CRISPR, which is presented in the journal Nature Communications, offers a broad platform for off-the shelf genome engineering that may lower the barrier of entry for this powerful technology.

New edition of the VIB Times is out! Theme: Microbiology


I vividly remember upsetting quite a few people a few years back at a VIB group leader retreat. Along with several other group leaders, I was asked to give a presentation in a session on future trends in science. As expected, the session turned out to be a recital of the obvious, with people predicting more genome sequencing, more big data, more CRISPR/Cas, more single-cell research. The audience was slipping into a deep, possibly irreversible, coma. That was, until I half-jokingly stated that there’s an easy answer for anyone not working in the field of microbiology: simply look at what microbiologists are doing right now to know where other fields will be headed in the coming five years. Coma transformed into fury. Someone stood up and shouted that microbes don’t even have neurons and that it is therefore rather unlikely that they would be good predictors of where the field of neurobiology would head to. Plant scientists, cancer specialists and immunologists nodded enthusiastically.

Plant-derived volatiles may serve as future antifungals


A research team at the VIB-KU Leuven Center for Microbiology has developed a novel screening method to identify antimicrobial properties of volatile substances. With this assay, they tested the vapour-phase-mediated activity of 175 essential oils (EOs) and 37 EO components. Approximately half of them proved active against the most drug-resistant type of Candida. In a context of fungi showing increasing drug resistance, these findings may be useful in both medical and agricultural applications.

From research project to spin-off: Aphea.Bio’s quest for next-generation biologicals


In the fast-emerging market of sustainable alternatives for chemical agricultural products, VIB spin-off Aphea.Bio is the new kid in town – or rather: in the wheat, barley and maize fields. Launched in June, the start-up’s offices in the Ghent-based Bio-Accelerator are still looking spic and span. However, Scientific Advisor Sofie Goormachtig (VIB-UGent Center for Plant Systems Biology), CEO Isabel Vercauteren and CSO Steven Vandenabeele have already spent three exciting years on the project. They’re happy to look back on the highlights, and give us a glimpse of what the future might bring.

Count your blessings: Quantitative Microbiome Profiling


A broad range of metabolic and inflammatory diseases is associated with alterations in gut microbiota composition and metabolic potential. Until now, sequencing-based gut microbiota research has been describing such dysbiotic states in terms of proportional shifts in microbiome composition. However, when it comes to the bacterial content of your bowels and how it relates to your health, not only percentages matter, but also numbers count. That is at least one of the main messages of the latest research of Jeroen Raes (VIB-KU Leuven) and his team published today in the scientific journal Nature.