University of Almeria (UAL)

The University of Almeria (UAL) is a research-education oriented public university, founded in 1993. It has currently 32 degrees available, 42 Master and 14 PhD programs available, counting with 854 professors and more than 13,000 students, including 600 doctorate students. A total of 14 departments and 11 research institutes are devoted to research and training.
UAL has been beneficiary of more than 30 EU projects and it is a member of ceiA3, aimed at the advance and dissemination of agrifood-related activities that also offers a wide variety of technical services to companies and stakeholders. The Research Results Transfer Office (OTRI) links scientific activity with the business world. The European and International Research Projects Office (OPEI), in charge of administrative management of international projects, have extensive experience in managing European Projects and supports the researcher. The Unit called Outreach Unit (CCU- Unidad de DivulgaciÛn CientÌfica) helps in dissemination activities.
The UAL team involved in the project includes researchers from two groups of Dpt. Biology and Geology: BIO-175 group (Experts in Microbiology, Unit of Microbiology, “Development of microbiological techniques for improvement of soil of agricultural interest”) and AGR-107 (Experts in insects, Unit Zoology, “Plant Protection in Greenhouse Crops). BIO-175 is specialized in Microbial Biotechnology. Main research activity has been focused from the last 25 years on the biotechnological valorisation of organic wastes (mainly lignocellulosic wastes) by both composting and bioconversions to value-added microbial products and bioremediation/biodegradation of recalcitrant molecules. As one of the outcomes of this activity, the group has a large collection of microorganism isolated from diverse environments that are useful for recalcitrant molecules biodegradation, biological control and plant- growth promotion. These include microorganisms and consortia that produce ligninases, polyphenoloxidases, lipases as well as dye-decolorizing and other xenobiotics-degrading microorganisms. Biodegradation, compostability, eco-toxicity, lignocellulose biotransformation, enzyme production and analysis, bio-deterioration, bioremediation and microorganisms screening and identification are among the main tests developed so far by the team that could be relevant for the tasks attributed in the project.
In particular, the use of polyurethane foam (PUF) either hard or soft was found to be an emerging technology for the production of ligninolytic enzymes by white rot fungi immobilized in this support. UAL in collaboration UNIPI developed this technology that give rise to EU patent Nr. EP2677030. Their activity has been financed by public and private funds through more than 30 national and international projects and led to publication of over 80 peer-reviewed papers, 5 books, 8 book chapters, 3 patents and more than 130 congress national and international communications.
AGR-107 group has been working in the last 28 years in research, development, and innovation in the following lines: applied entomology, taxonomy, biology and ecology of insects, rearing insect and mite pests and their natural enemies (predators and parasitoids). Evaluation of entomo-pathogens (viruses, bacteria and nematodes). Arthropod pest control technology: Development of biological control programmes against arthropod pests. Mathematical models applied to arthropod pest ecology. The activity has been carried out through 119 research projects and 54 research agreements and contracts with companies and official organizations. The scientific output of the group has been covered by 450 published scientific papers, 37 books, 82 book chapters, and 20 patents.

Main Task

UAL will support the analysis and selection of biotech tools for APW biodegradation in WP2 where they will be involved in the microbial community development and strain selection (Microbiology experts) as well as insect selection and lab scale studies (Insect experts). In WP3, UAL will participate in the analysis and design of formulations containing AWP-degrading microorganisms and insect larvae, and provide feedback on their performance during pilot scale experiments in WP4 and further downstream processing in WP5. Finally UAL will contribute to providing data for environmental and socio economic sustainability analysis, dissemination activities and exploitation of their results. UAL will coordinate the project with support from ENCO to guarantee the Grant agreement technical and economical fulfilment.

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