German government and federal states to support digital microbiota data storage with immediate effect
Research funding significantly improves availability of microbiology data – interview with microbiologist Prof. Dr. Jörg Overmann
The German Research Foundation will support the microbiota part of the National Research Data Infrastructure for the next five years, starting immediately. In an interview, Prof. Dr. Jörg Overmann, Scientific Director of the Leibniz-Institute DSMZ-German Collection of Microorganisms and Cell Cultures, explains the importance of the National Research Data Infrastructure for Microbiota Research (NFDI4Microbiota).
What is the National Research Data Infrastructure?
The National Research Data Infrastructure (NFDI) was founded as an association by the German federal government and the German federal states on October 12, 2020. The aims of the infrastructure are the standardization and safeguarding of existing German research data files, as well as the improvement of their availability. NFDI is a digital knowledge storage facility that systematically harnesses data in various research areas and cross-links them to significantly improve their usability. Within a science-led process performed by the German Research Foundation, topic-specific consortia such as our NFDI4Microbiota can now apply for funding by the NFDI. We are very pleased that this support is now available to us.
What is NFDI4Microbiota?
NFDI4Microbiota is a voluntary association of institutions and scientists in the area of microbiology. Members bring in their complementary expertise to make research data available and to provide tools for the better analysis of more data. Ultimately, the goal is to reach a better understanding of microorganisms such as bacteria and fungi.
What current occasions would you see for the consortium?
Currently high on the agenda and life-saving is the decoding of genetic information of SARS-CoV-2 and its variations. These data have to be available worldwide and they have to be fully usable. And of course NFDI4Microbiota is also about potential new usages for bacteria, such as the production of new drugs, the breakdown of plastics or the improved use of nutrients in farming through microbiologic interventions, which we are working on at the DSMZ. The core task of the consortium is the procession of digital data generated in these research areas.
How does NFDI4Microbiota reach its goals?
Research requires data to be traceable, usable, interoperable and reproducible (FAIR principle), which is also in accordance with the Leibniz-Society, to which we as DSMZ have belonged since 1996. Accordingly, the consortium creates a better access to data and improved ways of bioinformatic analysis. It also offers a range of extensive training possibilities in these areas. Another field of activity is the interconnection of researchers, to ensure the full and optimal utilisation of expertise available in Germany. Within the framework of the training program, researchers will learn about targeted data management and the standardisation of processes and analyses, in order to optimise the reproducibility of research. This also creates a broader awareness of the utilisation of data.
Which tasks does the Leibniz-Institute DSMZ and you as its head have within NFDI4Microbiotia?
As the globally most diverse collection of bioresources, we are in possession of more than 75,505 bioresources which to a large part are available to the worldwide research community. The importance of our digital collection is increasing. One particular highlight is the ‘Bacterial Diversity Metadatabase BacDive’, which allows users access to more than 82,000 bacteria already – free, standardized and therefore easy to browse. Based on this expertise, the DSMZ is mainly integrated in the consortium in the areas of standards and strategy. These include the development of standards in the collection, analysis and usage of experimental data as well as the creation of guidelines for data management (free access, reproducibility, consistency, transparency and interoperability).
The consortium NFDI4Microbiota is composed of ten applicants and more than 50 participating institutions. This consortium is part of the National Research Data Infrastructure for Germany – NFDI in short. Three tendering rounds coordinated by the German Research Association will now promote up to 30 consortiums for five years initially, with a possible extension of another five years. For this purpose, up to 85 million Euro per year are available in total. The NFDI4Microbiotia consortium leadership is in the hands of ZB Med – the German Information Centre for Life Sciences.
PhDr. Sven-David Müller, Head of Public Relations, Leibniz Institute DSMZ-German Collection of Microorganisms and Cell Cultures GmbH
Phone: ++49 (0)531/2616-300
About the Leibniz Institute DSMZ
The Leibniz Institute DSMZ-German Collection of Microorganisms and Cell Cultures is the world’s most diverse collection of biological resources (bacteria, archaea, protists, yeasts, fungi, bacteriophages, plant viruses, genomic bacterial DNA as well as human and animal cell lines). Microorganisms and cell cultures are collected, investigated and archived at the DSMZ. As an institution of the Leibniz Association, the DSMZ with its extensive scientific services and biological resources has been a global partner for research, science and industry since 1969. The DSMZ is the first registered collection in Europe (Regulation (EU) No. 511/2014) and certified according to the quality standard ISO 9001:2015. As a patent depository, it offers the only possibility in Germany to deposit biological material in accordance with the requirements of the Budapest Treaty. In addition to scientific services, research is the second pillar of the DSMZ. The institute, located on the Science Campus Braunschweig-Süd, accommodates more than 75,000 cultures and biomaterials and has around 200 employees. www.dsmz.de
The Leibniz Association
The Leibniz Association connects 96 independent research institutions that range in focus from the natural, engineering and environmental sciences via economics, spatial and social sciences to the humanities. Leibniz Institutes address issues of social, economic and ecological relevance. They conduct knowledge-driven and applied basic research, maintain scientific infrastructure and provide research-based services. The Leibniz Association identifies focus areas for knowledge transfer to policy-makers, academia, business and the public. Leibniz institutions collaborate intensively with universities – including in the form of “Leibniz ScienceCampi” – as well as with industry and other partners at home and abroad. They are subject to a transparent, independent evaluation. Because of their importance for the country as a whole, the Leibniz Association Institutes are funded jointly by Germany’s central and regional governments. The Leibniz Institutes employ around 20,500 people, including 11,500 researchers. The financial volume amounts to 2 billion euros. www.leibniz-gemeinschaft.de