S. Korea's agricultural ministry to establish microbiome resource center to create database

By Kim Joo-heon Posted : August 23, 2021, 11:10 Updated : August 23, 2021, 11:13

[Gettyimages Bank]

SEOUL -- South Korea's agriculture ministry will build a microbiome resource center to create a database of microorganisms by collecting resources and genetic information. The database will be shared with various sectors including the medical and food sectors to help enterprises beef up their capabilities.

The microbiome refers to a cluster of all types of microscopic organisms that co-exist with humans such as bacteria, fungi, protozoa and viruses. Many of them live inside our bodies and the types of the microbiome that form herds vary depending on people's physical condition. Since it is closely related to health, the microbiome is being widely researched globally.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs said in a statement on August 22 that the ministry will invest 30 billion won ($25.5 million) to build the center sized about 7,974 square meters, about the size of a football field, in Sunchang some 244 kilometers (152 miles) south of Seoul. The ground will be broken on August 23 and the center will start its operation during the second half of 2023.

At the center, some 3,500 microbiome samples will be collected from the soil, plants, animal feces, and food by 2023. About 1,000 samples will be added to the database annually, the ministry said. Samples will be used for the identification and analytics of microorganisms. Collected data will be shared with related industries to help the development of new technologies and products.

"Through the microbiome resource center, we will provide support for local enterprises by creating a core foundation to vitalize the development of related research, products and services," an unnamed agriculture ministry official was quoted as saying. The center will house analysis equipment for microbial genomes, ultra-low temperature preservation facilities, and laboratories for animal experimentation.
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