This PRD is a continuation of a PIC 2011 establishing biotechnology-oriented Microbial Resource Centres (MRC) in Ecuador. The global objective is to consolidate initiatives for the knowledge of the microbiome and its valorisation by biotechnology into knowledge-based bioeconomies. The need to transform the currently Ecuadorian, predominantly extractive economy towards an alternative model of knowledge-based bioeconomy, valuing the biodiversity potential, is strongly emphasized locally and
regionally. Aware of the need to diversify its economy, Ecuador has proposed to achieve a 30% contribution from bioeconomy to the national GDP by 2030.
Ecuador is a biodiversity hotspot8, which is a key resource for the development of bioeconomy. The local scientific, technical, economic and legislative capacities are still weak, however, and this biodiversity, especially its microbial component, is little characterized, as well as the economic and legal conditions for the emergence of value chains developing and commercializing biotechnology applications on lines with the Nagoya Protocol. Altogether, this prevents the local scientists from understanding the potential value of this microbial diversity.
The specific objective of the PRD is to reinforce the competences in microbial studies and development of microbe-based biotech from model (“pilots”) to services or product development, commercialized through local value chains. Specifically, the project will focus, through assessment and characterization of segments of the microbiome inhabiting weathered oil polluted ponds, on the development of innovative bioremediation / restauration processes of oil-polluted soils. Without anticipating
on the results of a thorough socio-economic and environmental analysis, developing innovative services to cope with liabilities caused by oil industries will contribute to the development of Ecuadorian based value chain, meet a recurrent request of the Ecuadorian society, of which native populations, and also contribute to the restoration of ecosystemic services. The PRD intends:
- To improve the understanding of the taxonomic and functional diversity of microbial communities of weathered oil polluted ponds;
- To develop two laboratory scale pilots for microbe-based remediation and phytoremediation of oil polluted soil;
- To develop a methodology for socio-economic and environmental spatialized impacts assessment and a database enabling the geo-digitalization of value chains of the local bioeconomy.