UPDATE: Registrations are now open for: "Better Food with Bioinformatics - Today's Science or Tomorrow's Dream?" On Thursday 19th June, Naturalis Biodiversity Center, Leiden, The Netherlands
It's been about two months since we held our bioinformatics workshop at NIAB in Cambridge where the focus for the day was on plant research. The response from those who attended on the day was very positive, and it has led to us becoming engaged in a number of new conversations with commercial organisations working in the field. As a result we are now thinking about a follow-up event on the subject of food bioinformatics but we could do with some advice as to the best way to go about organising it.
Unlike plant bioinformatics, food bioinformatics is a very new area which is essentially a whole group of other areas all combined. Food bioinformatics can most obviously be applied to the genomes of the source ingredients, in which case traditional plant, animal and fungal techniques may apply. It may also be applied to toxicology and nutrition and the understanding of the human body and the microorganisms that live within it. Likewise microbial techniques could be used to analyse contamination or decay, and all the above could be used to track provenance and detect mislabelling. Finally, for fermented products, it can be used to study the yeasts used in the production process.
Obviously this is a very diverse range of potential topics for a workshop on food bioinformatics that is unlikely to be more than a day long, so this is where we need help: what is the primary goal of bioinformaticians in the food industry today, the main area that they're active in and the biggest problems that they face? If we could gain a better understanding of this, then we can focus the workshop much more closely on addressing these problems and bringing maximal benefit to the food sector.