Biotechnology From the Blue Flower: The Unnatural, That Too is Natural

You are invited!

When: 30th June, 2021 – 7pm – 8:30pm CEST (6pm – 7:30pm BST)

Register in advance for this webinar: Click Here! Or copy and paste the link below…

Artists Anna Dumitriu and Alex May will discuss their project “Biotechnology from the Blue Flower” with a panel of experts from the EU Horizon H2020 CHIC project. Chicory is believed to have inspired the notion of the Blue Flower in German Romanticism – a central symbol of the movement. It influenced Goethe’s concept of the ‘urpflanze’ or primal plant in his “Metamorphosis of Plants” (and mentioned in Darwin’s “The Origin of Species”).

They will also explore the methodologies of “New Plant Breeding Techniques” such as gene editing using CRISPR, the potential uses of these techniques to improve food security and mitigate the impact of climate change, and it will focus on the question what does ‘natural’ really mean anyway – or as Goethe put it “The Unnatural, That Too is Natural”.

Expected Panelists

Dirk Bosch

Dirk Bosch is a scientist with ca 30 years of research experience. His primary research activities are centered on unravelling biosynthetic pathways in plants that lead to the immense biodiversity of molecules found in plants. He applies this knowledge via metabolic engineering of plants and microbes with the aim of bringing innovation to the agro-food and health sectors. He currently holds the position of Team Leader Applied Metabolic Systems within at Wageningen University and Research. He is initiator of numerous EU and other national and international subsidy as well as contract research projects. He has ca 100 publications in peer-reviewed scientific publications and is inventor on 19 independent patents and patent applications. He is coordinator of the EU-CHIC project.

Dirk Bosch studied chemistry at University of Leiden, did his PhD at the microbiology Department of the University of Utrecht and subsequently worked as PostDoc at Plant Genetic Systems in Ghent in Belgium.

Paul Bundock

Paul Bundock is a Senior Scientist working at the plant biotechnology company, KeyGene, located in Wageningen, The Netherlands. He has been involved in the application of genome editing technologies in plant breeding for the majority of his career and is fascinated by the application of novel tools in biotechnology. He is involved in the EU CHIC project aimed at improving chicory as commercial crop.

Katarina Cankar

Katarina Cankar is a scientist working at Wageningen University and Research in the Netherlands. Her research interest lies in plant compounds that give plants special properties, such as plant protection, flavor & fragrance, color or human health promotion. In the CHIC project Katarina is involved in gene editing of chicory for enhancement of chicory to produce improved food fibers and healthy terpenes.


Anna Dumitriu

Anna Dumitriu is an award winning internationally renowned British artist who works with BioArt, sculpture, installation, and digital media to explore our relationship to infectious diseases, synthetic biology and robotics. Past exhibitions include ZKM, Ars Electronica, BOZAR, The Picasso Museum, HeK Basel, Science Gallery Detroit, MOCA Taipei, LABoral, Art Laboratory Berlin, and Eden Project. She holds visiting research fellowships at the University of Hertfordshire, Brighton and Sussex Medical School, and Waag Society, as well as artist-in-residence roles with the Modernising Medical Microbiology Project at the University of Oxford, and with the National Collection of Type Cultures at Public Health England. She was the 2018 President of the Science and the Arts Section of the British Science Association. Her work has featured in many significant publications including Frieze, Artforum International Magazine, Leonardo Journal, The Art Newspaper, Nature and The Lancet. Current collaborations include the Institute of Microbiology and Microbial Biotechnology at BOKU – Universität für Bodenkultur in Vienna, the EU H2020 CHIC Consortium, the University of Leeds and the Institute of Epigenetics and Stem Cells at HelmholtzZentrum in München.

Alex May

Alex May is a British contemporary artist questioning how our individual and collective experiences of time, and formation of memories and cultural record, are mediated, expanded, and directed by contemporary technologies. His work forges creative links between art, science, and technology through a wide range of digital new media, including virtual and augmented reality, photogrammetry, algorithmic photography, interactive robotic artworks, video projection mapping, generative works, performance, and video and sound art. His international exhibition profile includes Ars Electronica, LABoral (Spain), IMPAKT (Netherlands), FACT (Liverpool), Furtherfield (London), WRO Media Art Biennale (Poland), HeK (Basel), Eden Project (UK), Science Gallery in Dublin (Ireland) and Bengaluru (India), ZHI Art Museum (China), and the Beall Center for Art + Technology, UC Irvine.

Erik Toussaint

Erik Toussaint is a chemistry and botany technician by training, and a science communicator by heart. After a few years of work in breeding research, Erik switched to communication about the research. He has been involved in communication about breeding and biotechnology from the late nineties of the last century. He claims to still learn every day: about science and about communication. Erik loves to support scientists in their communication, which ranges from TV-interviews to ‘waking up researchers minds’ in primary school kids. And he loves to support audiences in talking with scientists. Erik always works in teams, having the ambition to make scientists and audiences enthusiastic, helping them to better understand each other, while at the same time listening, in order to learn about these scientists and audiences. He joined KeyGene in 2018, after more than 30 years of working at Wageningen University and Research.

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Spanish Chef Jordi Bordas Makes CHICque. Gourmet Aftertastes!

Online cooking workshop at Plant Biology Europe 2021 Congress (28-29.06.2021)

Join us for this fascinating online panel discussion and cooking workshop. “Let’s eat CHICque. Gourmet Aftertastes” opens up the unique art, science and culinary potentials of alternative healthy ingredients in Chicory (Cichorium intybus).

Join Art & Science Node Berlin in this workshop and discussion about the health benefits and sensory stimulations of this delicious plant’s roots and discover its molecular structure through the medium of interactive media art.

The workshop will feature the molecules of inulin and terpenes from the chicory roots. Here, artists – Jill Scott and Marille Hahne, pastry chef Jordi Bordas, food producer – Sensus will collaborate to provide you with innovative forms of communication plus two astonishing pastry recipes that will not only stimulate your tastebuds but give you a basic start for a future of healthier baking and consumption.

All speakers and presenters share a passion to explore how interdisciplinary ideas can promote the unique health benefits of chicory. The online discussion will bridge art & science with the celebration of culinary art, prepared especially for you to learn by doing. Such teamwork might redefine how we understand and use these new ingredients as well as change agricultural production and eating habits.

The event would take place over two evenings, on the 28th and 29th of June. The first evening consists of an international art and science discussions panel, films about inulin production, and a master cooking exercise with two fabulous inulin dessert recipes invented by Jordi Bordas (World Pastry Champion). On the second evening, a discussion and analysis take place.

This international event related to the CHIC Horizon 2020 EU Project and CHIC Artists-in-Residence Program is designed by Art & Science Node to help you explore innovative approaches to the use of chicory with the chance to taste great food and share your accomplishments with others.

The event will be held on the Zoom platform. For more information, visit


Matthew de Roode, the Innovation Manager at Sensus in the Netherlands will help you to explore the properties of inulin. Sensus is the producer of chicory root fibers and they will provide high-quality inulin from chicory roots to the workshop’s participants. Inulin is a highly versatile ingredient that not only acts as a sugar replacement and fiber enrichment, it has the same taste characteristic as sucrose and can be used as a fat replacement in pastry preparations.

Jill Scott and Marille Hahne are German-Swiss artists that cross art, ecology, and neuroscience disciplines. For the past two years, they have been exploring the relation between sensory perception characteristics and biodiversity. In a new artwork called “Aftertaste” and a film entitled “Chicory Unpacked”, they explore the molecular structure of chicory in relation to models from the gustatory and olfactory system. This unique perspective comes from the Artists-in-Residence Program of the CHIC Horizon 2020 Project. They will also describe how to make delicious chicory root cappuccinos.

Jordi Bordas is the winner of the Pastry World Cup in Lyon in 2011. In the past years, Jordi has dedicated himself to researching and investigating new, functional ingredients for use in pastry, such as inulin. During the workshop, he will be joined by Adrianna Jaworska – Head of the R&D&i at Jordi Bordas Innovative Pastry Education. They will teach you to make two groundbreaking inulin-based recipes: Chocolate Soufflé and Lemon Meringue Pie.

Art & Science Node: Joanna Hoffmann is an artist working in the field of multimedia installation, XR, video animation. She is the founder and Chair of Art & Science Node (ASN). They will organize the workshop and the immersive, virtual exhibition “Capture the Future(s): OUR BIO-TECH PLANET. The Routes to Roots Networks and Beyond” presented at the Plant Biology Europe Congress. ASN is a creative & innovative network aiming at and committed to the creation of the synergy between art, science, and technology. Joanna will be joined by the ASN curator Karolina Wlazło-Malinowska.

Click the download for the complete press release.


Press Release


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Commercial Exploitation of Chicory as a Multipurpose Crop Updates

CHIC is the Chicory Innovation Consortium. The project’s main objectives are 1) to implement New Plant Breeding Techniques (NPBTs) in chicory in order to establish it as a multipurpose crop for the production of health-related products with clear benefits for consumers, and 2) to develop co-innovation pathways with stakeholders for game-changing technologies, such as NPBTs.

The overall objective of Work Package 8 (WP8) is to develop an exploitation strategy built on two strong business cases for NPBT based on high-quality dietary fiber and bioactive terpenes from chicory. Specific objectives are:

  • To demonstrate improved functionality of inulin from NPBT chicory in gut fermentation models
  • To demonstrate bioactivity of terpenes from chicory using advanced cell-based assays
  • To demonstrate the exploitation potential of the most promising NPBT chicory variants via business cases


Both improved inulin and terpene fractions were subjected to in-vitro bioactivity and safety evaluation and business cases for both lines will finally be created. Two types of NPBT chicory mutants have been generated and analysed: one type of mutations targeted to inulin breakdown genes (FEH knock-out, WP2) and the other for germacrene synthase A (CiGAS knock-out, WP1/WP2). Both have been studied for their terpene and inulin quality and quantity compared to commercial chicory. For studying the anti-inflammatory effects of chicory terpenes, a physiologically relevant model of the inflamed intestinal mucosa was developed. Two particularly interesting chicory extracts were assessed and strong antimicrobial potential was observed – antifungal as well as antibacterial activity towards antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Finally, a new multi-ingredient process was investigated, based on a selective adsorption column for terpenes. A conceptual process design yielding capex/opex details indicated that the sales price for the terpene mixture is in line with specialty ingredient prices, in food supplements. Currently, three scientific papers are being prepared based on the results obtained partly in WP8.

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Exploitation, Dissemination and Communication Update

CHIC is the Chicory Innovation Consortium. The project’s main objectives are 1) to implement New Plant Breeding Techniques (NPBTs) in chicory in order to establish it as a multipurpose crop for the production of health-related products with clear benefits for consumers, and 2) to develop co-innovation pathways with stakeholders for game-changing technologies, such as NPBTs.

The overall objective of Work Package 7 (WP7) is to inform stakeholders and the broader public in innovative ways about project activities, results, and related topics. Specific objectives are:

  • To ensure the effective exploitation of the results, including the handling of IP issues
  • To ensure efficient data management under FAIR principles
  • To communicate and disseminate the project activities and results to a wide range of stakeholders
  • To communicate and disseminate to the broader public including innovative Art-Science activities
  • To support the knowledge transfer to farmers, growers, and breeders


In the last 18 months, news, articles, and videos have continued to be published through the project’s social networks. However, Anna Dumitru and Alex May are continually working with CHIC consortium members to develop its sculptural and bio-digital installation entitled “Biotechnology from the Blue Flower.” Jill Scott and Marille Hahne are also continually developing the “AFTERTASTE” project based on the health of the human olfaction and gustatory systems and finishing its movie entitled “Chicory Unpact.” Educational activities for “early-state researchers” and a CHIC game are being developed by the DEI Group from University Carlos III, where it uses virtual, augmented reality, and ICT technology to educate teenagers about the CHIC concepts.

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