Earth and Life Institute

Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium

Earth and Life Institute

Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium

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News Article | June 26, 2017
Site: www.prnewswire.com

Prof. Stéphane Declerck , UCL ELI - Earth and Life Institute: "La technologie innovatrice d'Aphea.Bio offre un atout énorme pour l'identification rapide de micro-organismes qui impactent le rendement des cultures. Je me réjouis de pouvoir collaborer et de combiner nos expertises avec l'équipe d'Aphea.Bio". VIVES Louvain Technology Fund est un fonds d'investissement technologique multi-sectoriel qui investit dans les spin-off de l'Université catholique de Louvain (UCL) et dans les start-ups tant en Belgique que dans les pays limitrophes. VIVES II est financé par une douzaine d'investisseurs belges et européens de premier plan tels que le Fond d'Investissement Européen (EIF), SFPI-FPIM, BNP Paribas Fortis Private Equity Belgium, BPI France (France), ING Belgium, Sofina, AXA Belgium, Belfius, IRD (France), Nivelinvest, la Région de Bruxelles-Capitale et SOPARTEC. L'objectif du fonds est d'investir dans le développement de start-ups, depuis la validation technologique jusqu'à la maturité commerciale. Les fonds (VIVES I - €15 millions et VIVES II - €43 million) sont gérés par la SOPARTEC, la société de transfert de technologie de l'UCL, membre du LTTO . Les participations clés : KEEMOTION, ITEOS THERAPEUTICS, PROMETHERA BIOSCIENCES, NOVADIP BIOSCIENCES, SMARTNODES, GETSMILY, TESSARES, 3D-SIDE, AXINESIS, G2C, VIROVET, etc. Le laboratoire de mycologie combine la recherche fondamentale avec la recherche appliquée, basée sur un patrimoine exceptionnel de 30 000 souches vivantes représentant plus de 1200 genres et 4 000 espèces préservées dans la collection BCCM / MUCL. Deux piliers structurent les activités de recherche: la mycologie agroalimentaire, qui étudie le rôle des champignons dans les processus de production alimentaire; Et la mycologie agro-environnementale, qui se concentre sur quatre thématiques majeures: (1) la taxonomie, la phylogénie et la biodiversité des champignons dans les milieux naturels et anthropisés; (2) étude des chaînes trophiques et des relations hôte-pathogène ou symbiont-hôte à des niveaux physiologiques et moléculaires; (3) l'utilisation de champignons dans la bio-stimulation des plantes, la bio-protection vers les contraintes biotiques et abiotiques ainsi que la bio-assainissement des sols contaminés; (4) la production de bio-effecteurs fongiques et leur formulation par la technologie de micro et nano-encapsulation. Le laboratoire est basé sur une trentaine de scientifiques, techniciens et membres administratifs et possède un fort ancrage dans les programmes de l'UE avec environ 10 projets au cours des cinq dernières années.


News Article | June 26, 2017
Site: www.prnewswire.co.uk

In total, Aphea.Bio has raised 7.7 million euros in capital and 1.3 million euros non-dilutive capital. The series A financing round was led by V-Bio Ventures and was joined by a broad syndicate of investors including PMV, Agri Investment Fund, VIVES LOUVAIN TECHNOLOGY FUND, Qbic II, Gemma Frisius Fund KU Leuven, Group De Ceuster and VIB itself. Thanks to a successful Series A financing, Aphea.Bio aims at a leading position in the fast-emerging market of biopesticides and biostimulants. Aphea.Bio will be led by CEO Dr. Isabel Vercauteren and CSO Dr. Steven Vandenabeele. Dr. Willem Broekaert (Managing Partner V-Bio Ventures): "We are highly pleased to have built a strong investor consortium that provides the necessary financial backing for this innovative start-up company. This group of investors also brings along a unique Belgian network and we anticipate through their relationships with scientific institutions and key players in the agricultural sector to further strenghten its position." Prof. Stéphane Declerck, UCL ELI - Earth and Life Institute: "The innovative technology of Aphea.Bio provides an enormous asset to quickly identify micro-organisms impacting the yield of crops. I look forward to a future cooperation and joining of expertise with the team of Aphea.Bio." "Our holding in Aphea enables us to invest in sustainable agricultural, a sector which is on the brink of a biological revolution concerning the treatment of infections and to improve yield. We are convinced of the growth potential of the company, the scientific expertise of its founders and the industry's demand for innovative new products. This investment also contributes to strengthen our cooperation with European universities, thanks to a cross-fertilization in terms of creating spin-offs and research collaborations" says Philippe Durieux, CEO of VIVES II - Louvain Technology Fund. Click here to download the logo of Aphea.Bio and a group picture. The VIVES Louvain Technology Fund is a multi-sector technology fund which invests in the spin-offs of the Université catholique de Louvain (UCL) and start-ups in Belgium and neighboring countries. VIVES II is funded by a dozen leading Belgian and European investors such as the EUROPEAN INVESTMENT FUND (EIF), SFPI-FPIM, BNP PARIBAS FORTIS PRIVATE EQUITY BELGIUM, BPI FRANCE (France), ING BELGIUM, SOFINA, AXA BELGIUM, BELFIUS, IRD (France), NIVELINVEST, REGION BRUXELLES CAPITAL and by SOPARTEC, member of the LTTO. The objective of the fund is to invest in the development of start-ups, from validation of the technology to commercial maturity. The funds (VIVES I - €15 million and VIVES II - €43 million) are managed by SOPARTEC, UCL's technology transfer company. Key investee companies: KEEMOTION, ITEOS THERAPEUTICS, PROMETHERA BIOSCIENCES, NOVADIP BIOSCIENCES, SMARTNODES, GETSMILY, TESSARES, 3D-SIDE, AXINESIS, G2C, etc. About Laboratory of mycology UCL ELI - Earth and Life Institute The laboratory of mycology combines basic research with applied research, based on an exceptional heritage of 30 000 living strains representing more than 1200 genera and 4000 species, preserved within the BCCM/MUCL collection. Two pillars structure the research activities: agri-food mycology, which studies the role of fungi in food production processes; and agri-environmental mycology, which concentrates on four major thematics: (1) taxonomy, phylogeny and biodiversity of fungi in natural as well as anthropized environments; (2) studies of trophic chains and host-pathogen or symbiont-host relationships at physiological and molecular levels; (3) use of fungi in bio-stimulation of plants, bio-protection towards biotic and abiotic stresses as well as bio-remediation of contaminated soil; (4) production of fungal bio-effectors and their formulation via the technology of micro and nano-encapsulation. The laboratory is based on about 30 scientists, technicians and administrative members and has a strong anchorage in EU programs with about 10 projects over the last five years.


News Article | June 26, 2017
Site: www.prnewswire.com

In total, Aphea.Bio has raised 7.7 million euros in capital and 1.3 million euros non-dilutive capital. The series A financing round was led by V-Bio Ventures and was joined by a broad syndicate of investors including PMV, Agri Investment Fund, VIVES LOUVAIN TECHNOLOGY FUND, Qbic II, Gemma Frisius Fund KU Leuven, Group De Ceuster and VIB itself. Thanks to a successful Series A financing, Aphea.Bio aims at a leading position in the fast-emerging market of biopesticides and biostimulants. Aphea.Bio will be led by CEO Dr. Isabel Vercauteren and CSO Dr. Steven Vandenabeele. Dr. Willem Broekaert (Managing Partner V-Bio Ventures): "We are highly pleased to have built a strong investor consortium that provides the necessary financial backing for this innovative start-up company. This group of investors also brings along a unique Belgian network and we anticipate through their relationships with scientific institutions and key players in the agricultural sector to further strenghten its position." Prof. Stéphane Declerck, UCL ELI - Earth and Life Institute: "The innovative technology of Aphea.Bio provides an enormous asset to quickly identify micro-organisms impacting the yield of crops. I look forward to a future cooperation and joining of expertise with the team of Aphea.Bio." "Our holding in Aphea enables us to invest in sustainable agricultural, a sector which is on the brink of a biological revolution concerning the treatment of infections and to improve yield. We are convinced of the growth potential of the company, the scientific expertise of its founders and the industry's demand for innovative new products. This investment also contributes to strengthen our cooperation with European universities, thanks to a cross-fertilization in terms of creating spin-offs and research collaborations" says Philippe Durieux, CEO of VIVES II - Louvain Technology Fund. Click here to download the logo of Aphea.Bio and a group picture. The VIVES Louvain Technology Fund is a multi-sector technology fund which invests in the spin-offs of the Université catholique de Louvain (UCL) and start-ups in Belgium and neighboring countries. VIVES II is funded by a dozen leading Belgian and European investors such as the EUROPEAN INVESTMENT FUND (EIF), SFPI-FPIM, BNP PARIBAS FORTIS PRIVATE EQUITY BELGIUM, BPI FRANCE (France), ING BELGIUM, SOFINA, AXA BELGIUM, BELFIUS, IRD (France), NIVELINVEST, REGION BRUXELLES CAPITAL and by SOPARTEC, member of the LTTO. The objective of the fund is to invest in the development of start-ups, from validation of the technology to commercial maturity. The funds (VIVES I - €15 million and VIVES II - €43 million) are managed by SOPARTEC, UCL's technology transfer company. Key investee companies: KEEMOTION, ITEOS THERAPEUTICS, PROMETHERA BIOSCIENCES, NOVADIP BIOSCIENCES, SMARTNODES, GETSMILY, TESSARES, 3D-SIDE, AXINESIS, G2C, etc. About Laboratory of mycology UCL ELI - Earth and Life Institute The laboratory of mycology combines basic research with applied research, based on an exceptional heritage of 30 000 living strains representing more than 1200 genera and 4000 species, preserved within the BCCM/MUCL collection. Two pillars structure the research activities: agri-food mycology, which studies the role of fungi in food production processes; and agri-environmental mycology, which concentrates on four major thematics: (1) taxonomy, phylogeny and biodiversity of fungi in natural as well as anthropized environments; (2) studies of trophic chains and host-pathogen or symbiont-host relationships at physiological and molecular levels; (3) use of fungi in bio-stimulation of plants, bio-protection towards biotic and abiotic stresses as well as bio-remediation of contaminated soil; (4) production of fungal bio-effectors and their formulation via the technology of micro and nano-encapsulation. The laboratory is based on about 30 scientists, technicians and administrative members and has a strong anchorage in EU programs with about 10 projects over the last five years.


Nieberding C.M.,Leiden University | Nieberding C.M.,Earth and Life Institute | Fischer K.,University of Greifswald | Saastamoinen M.,Leiden University | And 7 more authors.
Ecology Letters | Year: 2012

Although olfaction is a primary mode of communication, its importance in sexual selection remains understudied. Here, using the butterfly Bicyclus anynana, we address all the parameters of importance to sexual selection for a male olfactory signal. We show that variation in the male sex pheromone composition indicates male identity and male age. Courting males of different ages display small absolute (c. 200ng) but large relative (100%) change of one specific pheromone component (hexadecanal) which, unlike the other components, showed no heritability. Females prefer to mate with mid-aged over younger males and the pheromone composition is sufficient to determine this preference. Surprisingly refined information is thus present in the male olfactory signal and is used for sexual selection. Our data also reveal that there may be no 'lek paradox' to resolve once the precise signal of importance to females is identified, as hexadecanal is, as expected, depleted in additive genetic variation. © 2012 Blackwell Publishing Ltd/CNRS.


Stevens A.,Earth and Life Institute | Nocita M.,Earth and Life Institute | Nocita M.,European Commission - Joint Research Center Ispra | Toth G.,European Commission - Joint Research Center Ispra | And 2 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2013

Soil organic carbon is a key soil property related to soil fertility, aggregate stability and the exchange of CO2 with the atmosphere. Existing soil maps and inventories can rarely be used to monitor the state and evolution in soil organic carbon content due to their poor spatial resolution, lack of consistency and high updating costs. Visible and Near Infrared diffuse reflectance spectroscopy is an alternative method to provide cheap and high-density soil data. However, there are still some uncertainties on its capacity to produce reliable predictions for areas characterized by large soil diversity. Using a large-scale EU soil survey of about 20,000 samples and covering 23 countries, we assessed the performance of reflectance spectroscopy for the prediction of soil organic carbon content. The best calibrations achieved a root mean square error ranging from 4 to 15 g C kg-1 for mineral soils and a root mean square error of 50 g C kg-1 for organic soil materials. Model errors are shown to be related to the levels of soil organic carbon and variations in other soil properties such as sand and clay content. Although errors are ∼5 times larger than the reproducibility error of the laboratory method, reflectance spectroscopy provides unbiased predictions of the soil organic carbon content. Such estimates could be used for assessing the mean soil organic carbon content of large geographical entities or countries. This study is a first step towards providing uniform continental-scale spectroscopic estimations of soil organic carbon, meeting an increasing demand for information on the state of the soil that can be used in biogeochemical models and the monitoring of soil degradation. © 2013 Stevens et al.


Mathiot P.,Earth and Life Institute | Goosse H.,Earth and Life Institute | Fichefet T.,Earth and Life Institute | Barnier B.,Joseph Fourier University | Gallee H.,CNRS Laboratory for Glaciology and Environmental Geophysics
Ocean Science | Year: 2011

One of the main features of the oceanic circulation along Antarctica is the Antarctic Slope Current (ASC). This circumpolar current flows westwards and contributes to communication between the three major oceanic basins around Antarctica. The ASC is not very well known due to remote location and the presence of sea ice during several months, allowing in situ studies only during summertime. Moreover, only few modelling studies of this current have been carried out. Here, we investigate the sensitivity of this simulated current to four different resolutions in a coupled ocean-sea ice model and to two different atmospheric forcing sets. Two series of simulations are conducted. For the first series, global model configurations are run at coarse (2°) to eddy-permitting (0.25°) resolutions with the same atmospheric forcing. For the second series, simulations with two different atmospheric forcings are performed using a regional circumpolar configuration (south of 30° S) at 0.5° resolution. The first atmospheric forcing is based on a global atmospheric reanalysis and satellite data, while the second is based on a downscaling of the global atmospheric reanalysis by a regional atmospheric model calibrated to Antarctic meteorological conditions. Sensitivity experiments to resolution indicate that a minimum model resolution of 0.5° is needed to capture the dynamics of the ASC in terms of water mass transport and recirculation. Sensitivity experiments to atmospheric forcing fields shows that the wind speed along the Antarctic coast strongly controls the water mass transport and the seasonal cycle of the ASC. An increase in annual mean of easterlies by about 30 % leads to an increase in the mean ASC transport by about 40 %. Similar effects are obtained on the seasonal cycle: using a wind forcing field with a larger seasonal cycle (+30 %) increases by more than 30 % the amplitude of the seasonal cycle of the ASC. To confirm the importance of wind seasonal cycle, a simulation without wind speed seasonal cycle is carried out. This simulation shows a decrease by more than 50 % of the amplitude of the ASC transport seasonal cycle without changing the mean value of ASC transport. © 2011 Author(s).


Dufour C.O.,CEA Saclay Nuclear Research Center | Sommer J.L.,French National Center for Scientific Research | Zika J.D.,French National Center for Scientific Research | Gehlen M.,CEA Saclay Nuclear Research Center | And 3 more authors.
Journal of Climate | Year: 2012

To refine the understanding of how the Southern Ocean responds to recent intensification of the southern annularmode (SAM), a regional oceanmodel at two eddy-permitting resolutions was forced with two synthetic interannual forcings. The first forcing corresponds to homogeneously intensified winds, while the second concerns their poleward intensification, consistent with positive phases of the SAM. Resulting wind-driven responses differ greatly between the nearly insensitive Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC) and the more sensitivemeridional overturning circulation (MOC).As expected, eddiesmitigate the response of theACC and MOC to poleward-intensified winds. However, transient eddies do not necessarily play an increasing role in meridional transport with increasing resolution. As winds and resolution increase, meridional transport from standing eddies becomes more efficient at balancing wind-enhanced overturning. These results question the current paradigms on the role of eddies and present new challenges for eddy flux parameterization. Results also indicate that spatial patterns of wind anomalies are at least as important as the overall change in intensity in influencing the Southern Ocean's dynamic response to wind events. Poleward-intensified wind anomalies from the positive trend in the SAMare farmore efficient in accelerating the ACCthan homogeneouswind anomalies. © 2012 American Meteorological Society.


Stevens A.,Earth and Life Institute | Miralles I.,Earth and Life Institute | Van Wesemael B.,Earth and Life Institute
Soil Science Society of America Journal | Year: 2012

Soil organic carbon (SOC) is considered to influence important processes affecting soil, air, and water quality. The management of this valuable resource could be assisted by remote sensing techniques able to provide highresolution spatial estimates of SOC. Such estimations are usually based on empirical regressions that are likely to have poor extrapolation abilities and hence it is important to properly estimate their accuracy in unsampled fields. Based on an imaging spectroscopy image acquired over the Luxembourg (c. 420 km2), several multivariate calibration models (partial least square [PLSR], penalized-spline signal [PSR], and support vector machine [SVMR] regressions) were developed to predict SOC content of topsoil bare agricultural fields and compared. The performance of the models was evaluated by means of cross-validation (k-fold[KFO], leave-one-out [LOO], leave-one-group-out [LOGO], and leave-one-field-out [LOFO]) and these estimates were compared with model performance obtained by validation. The validation set excluded the fields used in the training set, to provide realistic measures of prediction error in unsampled fields. All cross-validation techniques, except LOFO, strongly underestimate validation error. In large areas, training samples are often not a representative subset of the soil and spectral variation. Leave-one-field-out cross-validation, by repeatedly leaving samples belonging to one field out of the calibration, better simulates model error at unknown locations than other cross-validation strategies. The root mean square error (RMSE) of the best models, obtained with a stringent validation procedure (leave-fields-out), was equal to 4.7 g C kg-1. This is higher than most of previous studies using imaging spectroscopy for SOC prediction, suggesting that measures of accuracy obtained by KFO, LOO, and LOGO are likely over-optimistic in large areas. Finally, a SOC content map for the topsoil of croplands was produced that may assist soil monitoring and/or management efforts in this region in the future. © Soil Science Society of America.


Bitume E.V.,Earth and Life Institute | Bitume E.V.,Montpellier University | Bonte D.,Ghent University | Ronce O.,Montpellier University | And 4 more authors.
Ecology Letters | Year: 2013

Although dispersal distance plays a major role in determining whether organisms will reach new habitats, empirical data on the environmental factors that affect dispersal distance are lacking. Population density and kin competition are two factors theorised to increase dispersal distance. Using the two-spotted spider mite as a model species, we altered these two environmental conditions and measured the mean dispersal distance of individuals, as well as other attributes of the dispersal kernel. We find that both density and relatedness in the release patch increase dispersal distance. Relatedness, but not density, changes the shape of the dispersal kernel towards a more skewed and leptokurtic shape including a longer 'fat-tail'. This is the first experimental demonstration that kin competition can shape the whole distribution of dispersal distances in a population, and thus affect the geographical spread of dispersal phenotypes. © 2013 Blackwell Publishing Ltd/CNRS.


Bitume E.V.,Earth and Life Institute | Bitume E.V.,Montpellier University | Bonte D.,Ghent University | Ronce O.,Montpellier University | And 2 more authors.
Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences | Year: 2014

Non-genetic transmission of information across generations, so-called parental effects, can have significant impacts on offspring morphology, physiology, behaviour and life-history traits. In previous experimental work using the two-spotted spider mite Tetranychus urticae Koch, we demonstrated that dispersal distances increase with local density and levels of genetic relatedness. We here show that manipulation of parental and grand-parental density has a significant effect on offspring dispersal distance, of the same order of magnitude as manipulation of offspring density. We demonstrate that offspring exposed to the same density disperse further if they were born to parents exposed to higher density compared with parents exposed to low density. Offspring dispersal distance also increases when grand-parents were exposed to higher density, except for offspring exposed to lowdensities, which disperse at shorter distances whatever the grand-parental density. We also show that offspring from mothers exposed to higher densities were overall larger, which suggests that parents in high densities invest more in individual offspring, enabling them to disperse further. We propose that our findings should be included in models investigating the spread rate of invasive species or when predicting the success of conservation measures of species attempting to track changing climates. © 2014 The Author(s) Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.

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