New funding from ERA CoBioTech for the proposal on ‘YogurtDesign’

Petri Lahtvee received 100 kEUR funding from ERA CoBioTech program for their proposal ‘YogurtDesign’ to study microbial interactions in yogurt. The proposal was awarded in the first round of the EraCoBioTech call, a transnational call that aims at bringing systems and synthetic biology approaches to biotechnological applications.


Lahtvee and a team of academic researchers in the Netherlands, Germany and Switzerland, and the biotech company Chr Hansen from Denmark will develop computational approaches to predict microbial interactions in … yogurt.

Yogurt is made by the close collaboration (cross feeding) of two lactic acid bacteria. It is an industrial use case with implications for many industrial biotechnological processes, as the processes are very often carried out by consortia of bacteria, rather than single strains. To improve performances of such processes, the biotech industry currently relies mostly on screening-based selection of isolated strains with desired properties. However, these properties are very often influenced by other consortium members in unknown ways.

From single strains to consortia

Screening consortia is challenging, because only a tiny subset of all the many possible combinations can ever be tested. Therefore, there is a need to develop methods that can predict the performance of strains in consortia, on the basis of the genome and selected phenotypic traits. This project aims to develop an integrative bioinformatics and modeling approach to predict microbial community functioning from the properties of the constituent isolates.