Fjarðabyggðar's environmental and climate strategy 2020-2040. Project worker Anna Berg Samúelsdóttir for the municipality of Fjarðabyggð.


Anna Berg Samúelsdóttir Anna Guðrún Þórhallsdóttir


Anna Berg Samúelsdóttir


Link to report


Value chain of Icelandic vegetables


Ólafur Reykdal

Project Manager

The project Vegetable value chain started at Matís in 2021 with a grant from the Food Fund. The project considered the quality and shelf life of Icelandic vegetables, as well as exploring new opportunities for making use of by-products. The project has now been completed and the results have been published in four reports. Project manager Ólafur Reykdal and expert Eva Margrét Jónudóttir tell us about the project and its significance for stakeholders.

Increased value creation in the business world

The aim of the project was to improve the quality, shelf life and reduce waste in the value chain of Icelandic vegetables in order to promote the vegetable sector in Iceland with new knowledge and increase the quality of production. The main subjects of the project were shelf-life studies, investigations of ways to create value from by-products, and analysis of ways to reduce shrinkage in the value chain. The project exceeded expectations and new practical information is now available. It is interesting to wonder why it was decided to start this project in the beginning? 

"It is in line with Matís' role to increase value creation in the business world. Not much has been done for the vegetable sector, so there was reason to improve it," explains Ólafur Reykdal.

Interesting results and far-reaching implications

The project has now been completed and reports have been published on Matís' website. The results are diverse and the project provides increased knowledge that will be useful to business partners.

The results of measuring the chemical content of potatoes may surprise many. It turned out that there were more antioxidants in the potatoes than expected and different amounts of carbohydrates (9-20%) depending on the potato varieties. The lower the percentage of carbohydrates, the fewer the calories in the potatoes. In light of the antioxidants, it can be said that the healthiness of potatoes has been underestimated. The impact of these results did not stop, and the potato farmers in Þórustaðir responded in the following way:

"The project led to potato farmers in Þórustaðir in Eyjafjörður revising the labels on their products, and a special chemical composition was revealed for new potato varieties that the farmers had taken up for cultivation," says Ólafur Reykdal.

Common herbs were also studied. Herbs are extremely healthy, as they are full of vitamins and minerals and are used to flavor food. "The project demonstrated the high antioxidant activity of herbs and the importance of storing them in the right conditions. A leaflet was prepared which has been distributed," explains Ólafur Reykdal. You can access the leaflet here at the bottom of the news.

Image from a single sheet

"We compared vegetables wrapped in plastic and unwrapped vegetables for up to 12 weeks. There was a decisive difference between the lightness of packaged and unpackaged vegetables, this was especially noticeable for carrots. The quality of beets in plastic film was maintained for at least 12 weeks and they did not lose weight," explains Ólafur. A leaflet was prepared with the results, which those interested can access here at the bottom of the news.  

The pictures show packaged and unpackaged carrots after 10 weeks in a shelf life experiment.

"Packaged broccoli received good quality ratings for seven weeks, but unpackaged broccoli lasted much less. For more types of vegetables, refer to reports."

Here you can see Ólaf Reykdal and Eva Margréti Jónudóttir presenting the results of the project during Innovation Week 2022.

"Various checks were made on the vegetable supply chain. Temperatures were measured with thermometers during transport of vegetables around the country. Weak links were revealed especially in distribution centers and shops in rural areas. The relevant parties were notified and hopefully they have worked on fixes. "Suggestions were put forward on how to reduce the deterioration of vegetables in the value chain," says Ólafur Reykdal.

The results of the potato measurements were surprising

"Surprisingly, more antioxidants were measured in potatoes than in various brightly colored vegetables. It was interesting how high a percentage of minerals could be found in vegetable by-products. For example, there is relatively more minerals in dry matter from side products (leaves) than in common vegetables. This indicates that more minerals can be found in side products than in common vegetables, and thus exciting possibilities for the processing of that raw material.

Another thing that caught my eye was how common it is for horses to be partially fed on horticultural by-products without any apparent harm. Someone could claim that by using various by-products in feed, there could be a toxic effect, but according to our sources, this does not seem to be the case based on the amount of by-products that are used in feed in this country.

It was also a real surprise how much perfectly good vegetables are wasted because the market can't accept them all when they're at their freshest. Although we always want to try to reduce plastic use as much as possible, at the same time we want to reduce food waste by increasing shelf life. As the results of this project indicate, the shelf life of vegetables can be significantly increased by packaging, and therefore it can be said that packaging in this case truly prevented wastage. It will probably be possible to reduce the use of plastic with new packaging materials," says Eva Margrét.

New opportunities following a successful project

The project has resulted in two exciting projects. On the one hand, a project about the challenges of packing vegetables, and on the other hand, a project that deals with the value of horticulture by-products. Both projects have received funding from the Swedish Food Fund.

The project on the challenges of packaging vegetables started in 2022. "It is hoped that the results of this project will help in the selection of packaging materials and packaging methods," explains Ólafur

The foundation has been laid for new research on the by-products of horticulture aimed at the production of valuable products, a grant has been received from the Food Fund and it is estimated that the project will start in 2022. when defoliating tomato and cucumber plants, leaves of outdoor vegetables such as cauliflower, broccoli, turnips, carrots, leaves and stems from floriculture. In addition, the basis for improved utilization of second-class products and excess amounts of carrots will be examined. Biomaterials and bioactive substances will be isolated from each biomass and the amount, bioactivity properties and processing properties will be studied with the aim of being used as ingredients in new products," explains Eva Margrét.

Special thanks to partners in the project: Gardeners' Sales Association, the gardeners' section of the Farmers' Association, the Agricultural Advisory Center, the Samkaup retail chain and numerous gardeners.

Below you can find the four reports:

  • Report 1: Improved quality, shelf life and less waste in the value chain of Icelandic vegetables, click here
  • Report 2: By-products of vegetable production, click here
  • Report 3: Analysis of Atrophy in Vegetable Value Chain, click here
  • Report 4: Shelf life and deterioration in the vegetable value chain, click here

Single leaf Herbs- Healthy but delicate, can be found here

The single leaf packaging of carrots preserves quality and prevents water loss, it can be found here

Projects on vegetables are carried out in various areas at Matís, but fall under the service category Vegetables and grains. If you are interested in learning more about research and innovation in that service category, you can access information by clicking here:


EIT Food North-West event in October

Take part in the EIT Food North-West event which will be held on 3-5 next october The focus is on knowledge sharing and networking. The event is for the food industry, technology partners and product manufacturers.

Why attend?

  • To gain knowledge of the UK food industry.
  • To connect with industry experts who have important relationships with technology centers and the market.
  • To hear from people in the UK and Iceland who work in the food industry and have grown successfully.

The event will take place on the 3rd-5th. October:

Monday, October 3What do buyers and retailers want? The UK retail market.
Matís, Reykjavík
Tuesday, October 4Iceland's blue economy and 100% fish
Iceland Ocean Cluster, Reykjavík
Wednesday, October 5Introduction to controlled environment in agricultural production
Orchids, Selfoss

Come and join us! You can find the program of Matís and EIT Food for Monday, October 3 here:

09:00 Opening, Oddur M. Gunnarsson CEO of Matís
The consumer, demand and the UK market
Networking and sharing – speed networking – session I
The mission of Mackies, the global small producer – ice cream straight from the farm
12:15 Lunch break – networking and sharing
13:15 Micro mission; Food Innovation Wales, Scottish Rural Agricultural College, National Manufacturing Institute and Strathclyde
The opportunities; presentation of EIT Food/EEN 
Networking and sharing – speed networking – Session II
16:30 Summary and end of program

Participation is free, but registration is required by clicking the registration button below:

You can find all the details by clicking here

Do you have a question about the event? Anna Berg Samúelsdóttir, an expert at Matís, answers all questions by email


Doctoral defense in biology – Pauline Anne Charlotte Bergsten

Next Monday, September 12, Pauline Bergsten will defend her doctoral thesis in biology. The project is called: Exploration of the Microbial Communities within the Basaltic Subsurface of the Volcanic Island Surtsey in Iceland

The doctoral defense takes place in The Aula of the HÍ main building and starts at 10:00.

Dr. Steffen L. Jörgensen, associate professor at the University of Bergen, Norway
Dr. Odd Þ. Vilhelmsson, professor at the University of Akureyri.

Advisor Dr. Viggó Þór Marteinsson, Professor at the Faculty of Food Science and Nutrition , University of Iceland and Research Group Leader at Matís

Doctoral committee:
Dr. Pauline Vannier, project manager at Matís
Dr. Snædís H. Björnsdóttir, associate professor at the Faculty of Life and Environmental Sciences of the University of Iceland

Chair of Ceremony: Dr. Snæbjörn Pálsson, Professor and Head of the Faculty of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Iceland

Surtsey is a volcanic island located on the south-east offshore extension of the Icelandic rift zone. It was formed during successive eruptions from the seafloor in 1963-1967 and has been officially protected and studied ever since. It represents an exceptional natural setting for studying colonization and succession of life on land. Also for subsurface microbial communities associated with newly formed basaltic tuff deposits in a seawater-hydrothermal system that is still active and at temperatures approaching the presumed thermal limit for functional life.
During an international drilling operation at Surtsey in 2017, drill core samples at successive depths as well as associated hot fluids and surface fumes from fumaroles were collected for microbial investigations. This thesis presents the first and most comprehensive research of the Surtsey subsurface biosphere. Multiple approaches were combined on the rare and unique samples to increase the knowledge of microbial communities inhabiting the oceanic subsurface and of the processes that sustain such life.
These included molecular analyses of environmental DNA through 16S rRNA gene amplicon and metagenome sequencing, isolation and characterization of bacterial strains and microscopic investigations. Based on the DNA concentration, the microbial cell numbers present in the drill cores were estimated to range from about 5×104 to 1×106 cells per gram of sample.
The Surtsey subsurface is therefore a low biomass environment, making the samples extremely sensitive to external contamination. It is nevertheless a diverse habitat that hosts bacterial and archaeal clades, including extremophiles, that have been previously detected in other terrestrial and marine environments. Yet, many clades belonged to unknown lineages. Predictive functional analyses based on taxonomic identifications revealed that the Surtsey subsurface biosphere is composed of heterotrophic microorganisms as well as chemoautotrophs involved in the sulfur, nitrogen, and methane cycles. However, these results could not be strengthened by the functional metagenomic investigations as they were inconclusive. Numerous enrichment cultures were initiated using different conditions and media and resulted in nearly 200 isolated bacterial strains, which included several novel species. One novel thermophilic bacterial species, Rhodothermus bifroesti, was fully characterized and its genome was sequenced and compared with those of the two other described Rhodothermus species. Comparative analyses revealed that 2.15% of the amplicon sequence variants from the 16S rRNA gene amplicon sequence datasets were represented by cultivated strains using standard methods. Finally, putative microbial structures adhering to the basaltic tuff were discovered inside the numerous interconnected vesicles found in the basaltic glass.
All of the findings point to an active microbial colonization of the Surtsey deposits within 50 years after the eruptions ended, with possible sources of colonization coming from the surrounding ecosystems via microbial dissemination and possible adaptations.
The thesis establishes a foundation for future research on the microbial communities that inhabit the Surtsey subsurface and their temporal succession in the face of a cooling and changing hydrothermal environment.

More information can be found by clicking here.


The Farmers' Association of Iceland visited Matís

The Farmers' Association of Iceland visited us in Matís last September 7. Gunnar Þorgeirsson, chairman, Vigdís Häsler, managing director, and Guðrún Birna Brynjarsdóttir, expert, examined the progress in the tissue culture of seed potatoes that Matís is carrying out for the Farmers Association. Other collaborative projects were also reviewed, but they are numerous and the aim is to increase them even further in the future.

Below you can see pictures of tissue cultured potatoes grown by Matís.

Matís thanks the Farmers' Association of Iceland for coming and looks forward to continued good cooperation. 

Peer-reviewed articles

Basalt-Hosted Microbial Communities in the Subsurface of the Young Volcanic Island of Surtsey, Iceland


Pauline Bergsten

Ph.D. Student

The island of Surtsey was formed in 1963–1967 on the offshore Icelandic volcanic rift zone. It offers a unique opportunity to study the subsurface biosphere in newly formed oceanic crust and an associated hydrothermal-seawater system, whose maximum temperature is currently above 120 ° C at about 100m below surface. Here, we present new insights into the diversity, distribution, and abundance of microorganisms in the subsurface of the island, 50years after its creation. Samples, including basaltic tuff drill cores and associated fluids acquired at successive depths as well as surface fumes from fumaroles, were collected during expedition 5059 of the International Continental Scientific Drilling Program specifically designed to collect microbiological samples. Results of this microbial survey are investigated with 16S rRNA gene amplicon sequencing and scanning electron microscopy. To distinguish endemic microbial taxa of subsurface rocks from potential contaminants present in the drilling fluid, we use both methodological and computational strategies. Our 16S rRNA gene analysis results expose diverse and distinct microbial communities in the drill cores and the borehole fluid samples, which harbor thermophiles in high abundance. Whereas some taxonomic lineages detected across these habitats remain uncharacterized (eg, Acetothermiia, Ammonifexales), our results highlight potential residents of the subsurface that could be identified at lower taxonomic rank such as Thermaerobacter, BRH-c8a (Desulfallas-Sporotomaculum), Thioalkalimicrobium, and Sulfurospirillum. Microscopy images reveal possible biotic structures attached to the basaltic substrate. Finally, microbial colonization of the newly formed basaltic crust and the metabolic potential are discussed on the basis of the data.

Link to article

Peer-reviewed articles

Cultivable Bacterial Diversity from the Basaltic Subsurface of the Young Volcanic Island of Surtsey, Iceland


Pauline Bergsten

Ph.D. Student

The oceanic crust is the world's largest and least explored biosphere on Earth. The basaltic subsurface of Surtsey island in Iceland represents an analogue of the warm and newly formed oceanic crust and offers a great opportunity for discovering novel microorganisms. In this study, we collected borehole fluids, drill cores, and fumarole samples to evaluate the culturable bacterial diversity from the subsurface of the island. Enrichment cultures were performed using different conditions, media and temperatures. A total of 195 bacterial isolates were successfully cultivated, purified, and identified based on MALDI-TOF MS analysis and by 16S rRNA gene sequencing. Six different clades belonging to Firmicutes (40%), Gammaproteobacteria (28.7%), Actinobacteriota (22%), Bacteroidota (4.1%), Alphaproteobacteria (3%), and Deinococcota (2%) were identified. Bacillus (13.3%) was the major genus, followed by Geobacillus (12.33%), Enterobacter (9.23%), Pseudomonas (6.15%), and Halomonas (5.64%). More than 13% of the cultured strains potentially represent novel species based on partial 16S rRNA gene sequences. Phylogenetic analyzes revealed that the isolated strains were closely related to species previously detected in soil, seawater, and hydrothermal active sites. The 16S rRNA gene sequences of the strains were aligned against Amplicon Sequence Variants (ASVs) from the previously published 16S rRNA gene amplicon sequence datasets obtained from the same samples. Compared with the culture-independent community composition, only 5 out of 49 phyla were cultivated. However, those five phyla accounted for more than 80% of the ASVs. Only 121 out of a total of 5642 distinct ASVs were culturable (≥98,65% sequence similarity), representing less than 2,15% of the ASVs detected in the amplicon dataset. Here, we support that the subsurface of Surtsey volcano hosts diverse and active microbial communities and that both culture-dependent and -independent methods are essential to improving our insight into such an extreme and complex volcanic environment.

Link to article

Peer-reviewed articles

Rhodothermus bifroesti sp. nov., a thermophilic bacterium isolated from the basaltic subsurface of the volcanic island Surtsey


Pauline Bergsten

Ph.D. Student

Novel thermophilic heterotrophic bacteria were isolated from the subsurface of the volcanic island Surtsey off the south coast of Iceland. The strains were isolated from tephra core and borehole fluid samples collected below 70 m depth. The Gram-negative bacteria were rod-shaped (0.3–0.4 µm wide, 1.5–7 µm long), aerobic, non-sporulating and non-motile. Optimal growth was observed at 70 °C, at pH 7–7.5 and with 1% NaCl. Phylogenetic analysis identified the strains as members of the genus Rhodothermus. The type strain, ISCAR-7401 T, was genetically distinct from its closest relatives Rhodothermus marinus DSM 4252 T and Rhodothermus profundi PRI 2902 T based on 16S rRNA gene sequence similarity (95.81 and 96.01%, respectively), genomic average nucleotide identity (73.73 and 72.61%, respectively) and digital DNA–DNA hybridization (17.6 and 16.9%, respectively). The major fatty acids of ISCAR-7401 T were iso-C 17:0, anteiso-C 15:0, anteiso-C 17:0 and iso-C 15:0 (>10 %). The major isoprenoid quinone was MK-7 while phosphatidylethanolamine, diphosphatidylglycerol, an unidentified aminophospholipid and a phospholipid were the predominant polar lipid components. Based on comparative chemotaxonomic, genomic and phylogenetic analyses, we propose that the isolated strain represents a novel species of the genus Rhodothermus with the name Rhodothermus bifroesti sp. Nov. The type strain is ISCAR-7401 T (=DSM 112103 T =CIP 111906 T).

Link to article

Peer-reviewed articles

SUSTAIN drilling at Surtsey volcano, Iceland, tracks hydrothermal and microbiological interactions in basalt 50 years after eruption


Pauline Bergsten

Ph.D. Student

The 2017 Surtsey Underwater volcanic System for Thermophiles, Alteration processes and INnovative concretes (SUSTAIN) drilling project at Surtsey volcano, sponsored in part by the International Continental Scientific Drilling Program (ICDP), provides precise observations of the hydrothermal, geochemical, geomagnetic, and microbiological changes that have occurred in basaltic tephra and minor intrusions since explosive and effusive eruptions produced the oceanic island in 1963–1967. Two vertically cored boreholes, to 152 and 192 m below the surface, were drilled using filtered, UV-sterilized seawater circulating fluid to minimize microbial contamination. These cores parallel a 181 m core drilled in 1979. Introductory investigations indicate changes in material properties and whole-rock compositions over the past 38 years. A Surtsey subsurface observatory installed to 181 m in one vertical borehole holds incubation experiments that monitor in situ mineralogical and microbial alteration processes at 25–124 ∘C. A third cored borehole, inclined 55∘ in a 264∘ azimuthal direction to 354 m measured depth, provides further insights into eruption processes, including the presence of a diatreme that extends at least 100 m into the seafloor beneath the Surtur crater. The SUSTAIN project provides the first time-lapse drilling record into a very young oceanic basaltic volcano over a range of temperatures, 25–141 ∘C from 1979 to 2017, and subaerial and submarine hydrothermal fluid compositions. Rigorous procedures undertaken during the drilling operation protected the sensitive environment of the Surtsey Natural Preserve.

Link to article

Peer-reviewed articles

Impact of onboard chitosan treatment of whole cod (Gadus morhua) on the shelf life and spoilage bacteria of loins stored superchilled under different atmospheres


Pauline Bergsten

Ph.D. Student

The initial handling of marine fish on board fishing vessels is crucial to retain freshness and ensure an extended shelf life of the resulting fresh products. Here the effect of onboard chitosan treatment of whole, gutted Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua) was studied by evaluating the quality and shelf life of loins processed six days post-catch and packaged in air or modified atmosphere (% CO2/ O2/ N2: 55/5/40) and stored superchilled for 11 and 16 days, respectively. Sensory evaluation did not reveal a clear effect of chitosan treatment on sensory characteristics, length of freshness period or shelf life of loins under either packaging conditions throughout the storage period. However, directly after loin processing, microbiological analysis of loins showed that onboard chitosan treatment led to significantly lower total viable counts as well as lower counts of specific spoilage organisms (SSO), such as H2S-producers and Pseudomonas spp., compared to the untreated group. In addition, the culture-independent approach revealed a lower bacterial diversity in the chitosan-treated groups compared to the untreated groups, independently of packaging method. Partial 16S rRNA gene sequences belonging to Photobacterium dominated all sample groups, indicating that this genus was likely the main contributor to the spoilage process.

Link to article