What will be for dinner? – Matís' seminar on the future of food production

Next Friday, on May 31, Matís' seminar on the future of food production will take place. The seminar is entitled "What's for dinner?" and runs from 9:00 am to 12:30 pm in Harpa's Norðurløsasal.

There, the latest in the field of food research will be in focus, along with challenges and opportunities in food production in the future. Among the speakers will be Bente Torstensen, director of NOFIMA (food research in Norway), Dirk Carrez, director of the Biobased Industries Consortium and Ólavur Gregersen from Ocean Rainforest, the latter being a Faroese pioneer in the use of algae in food, feed and packaging. He has set up a massive algae factory and is a world leader in research and development on the utilization of seaweed. This activity has attracted a lot of attention around the world, as this industry could play a key role in replacing traditional plastic packaging with biodegradable plastic and also in contributing to increased food safety worldwide.

Matís' experts will also present their research, for example in relation to side products in vegetable farming, the development of Icelanders' fish consumption, fresh protein, food systems in cities to name a few. Then representatives from, among others, SFS, the farmers' association and the University of Iceland will sit on a panel and answer questions about the impact of food research on the food industry and society.

Bjarkey Olsen Gunnarsdóttir, Minister of Food, will open the forum and the moderator will be Bergur Ebbi. Below is the agenda of the seminar and the registration link. Those who register here will also be sent a link to the stream, but the forum will also be streamed on

The forum's Facebook page

Upptökur, glærur fyrirlesara og myndir frá málþinginu eru aðgengilegar hér:

Hvað verður í matinn? Málþing Matís um framtíð matvælaframleiðslu


Matís' summer festival will be on June 5

You are all warmly welcome to Matís' summer festival on June 5 next at 16:00 - 18:00 at Vínlandsleið 12.

It will be real fun for the whole family, as Stjörnu Sævar will visit the area, face painting for the children and exciting science stations for young and old.

Here you can see the event on Facebook.


Doctoral defense in Chemistry – Rebecca Sim

Next Monday, May 27, Rebecca Sim will defend her doctoral thesis in chemistry at the University of Iceland. The thesis is entitled Distribution of hydrophilic and lipophilic arsenic compounds among macroalgae.

The doctoral defense will take place in the Celebration Hall of the University of Iceland's Main Building at 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Opponents will be Dr. Barbro Kollander, senior scientist at the Swedish Food Agency and Dr. Kristmann Gíslason, professional manager of the chemical analysis group at the Icelandic Marine Research Institute. The supervisor is Ásta Heiðrún Pétursdóttir, PhD in chemical analysis and expert at Matís.

The doctoral committee also includes Dr. Guðmundur Haraldsson professor emeritus, dr. Jörg Feldmann, head of the Trace Element Speciation Laboratory (TESLA) at the University of Graz in Austria, and Dr. Karl Gunnarsson, biologist at the Icelandic Marine Research Institute.

The director of defense is Dr. Einar Örn Sveinbjörnsson, dean of the Faculty of Science, University of Iceland.

Rebecca is from North-East Scotland but moved to Iceland in 2020 to study for a PhD. She completed a BSc in Chemistry at the University of Glasgow and an MSc in Analytical Chemistry at the University of Aberdeen. Rebecca currently works as an expert in Matís' chemical analysis group.

The following is an abstract of the essay:
Algae can absorb large amounts of the element arsenic from the sea in the form of inorganic arsenic, which is a known carcinogen. In the algae, arsenic is also detected in the form of diverse organic compounds of arsenic, for example arsenosaccharides and arsenolipids, but organic arsenic species have been considered harmless. However, recent research on arsenolipids has shown that they can be as cytotoxic as inorganic arsenic, and it is possible that arsenosugars have long-term negative effects with regular consumption. There is a lot of mystery about the origin of arsenolipids, but the starting point of their production is believed to take place in algae. Algae are becoming more and more popular in the West. More information on these compounds is urgently needed to fully assess the risks associated with their consumption and to ensure that appropriate regulations are established regarding their maximum levels in food. Samples of red, green and brown algae were collected near Grindavík and Kjalarnes. The samples were thoroughly analyzed for heavy metals and an arsenic analysis was carried out to obtain information on the chemical form of the arsenic. The speciation of arsenolipids is complex and was carried out in selected samples with mass spectrometry HPLC-ICP-M/ESI-MS/MS and HPLC-qToF-MS. In addition, brown macroalgae were divided into biological fractions to determine whether the distribution of arsenic species is uniform throughout the seaweed. Limited information is available globally on algal arsenolipids, so this extensive profiling of them in different species of algae will help elucidate how these enigmatic organic arsenic compounds are formed and where they are stored. The data can also be used for risk assessment of arsenic species in seaweed for human consumption and can therefore influence future food safety legislation.

EU-Funded BioProtect Initiative Launches to Restore & Protect Marine Biodiversity in the Atlantic & Arctic Oceans

In response to the pressing challenges posed by human activities and climate change on marine ecosystems, BioProtect, a newly-funded EU project, has been officially launched. Coordinated by MATIS in Iceland, the 8 million EUR brings together 18 partners from 8 countries. Over the next four years, these partners will collaborate to develop innovative, adaptable, and scalable ecosystem-centered solutions aimed at safeguarding and restoring biodiversity across European seas, from the Atlantic to the Arctic Ocean.

The project will consolidate these solutions into an Area-Based Management Decision Support Framework (ABM-DSF), which will be demonstrated at five different study sites across Europe, including Norway, Iceland, Ireland, the Azores, and Portugal. BioProtect will actively engage with a wide range of stakeholders to ensure the effective implementation and utilization of its solutions by end-users. By raising awareness and enabling stakeholders and citizens to participate in the decision-making process, BioProtect empowers them to protect and restore marine ecosystems and biodiversity.

Sophie Jensen, Coordinator of BioProtect, highlights the project's potential impact:

"BioProtect is an innovative project poised to address the urgent need for comprehensive and sustainable solutions to mitigate the effects of human-induced pressures and climate change on marine ecosystems. Through collaborative research, innovation, and strategic partnerships, we aim to deliver a framework that not only preserves but also restores marine biodiversity."

The project's diverse consortium will convene on May 22-23, 2024, in Copenhagen, Denmark, for the Kick-off Meeting. This event will bring together all project partners in a collaborative effort to plan the project's next steps and start delivering impact-driven solutions that effectively address biodiversity loss and climate change.

With its robust framework and collaborative approach, the BioProtect project holds promise and potential for introducing a new era of marine biodiversity conservation and restoration in European seas.

MATIS is a governmentally owned non-profit company based in Reykjavík, Iceland. MATIS is coordinating the BioProtect project. The Icelandic Marine and Freshwater Research Institute is also a key partner in the projects' administration as Julian M. Burgos is the Scientific leader of BioProtect.

If you would like more information about this topic, please call Sophie Jensen at +354 4225025 or email at

Peer-reviewed articles

 The gut microbiome of farmed Arctic char (Salvelinus alpinus) is shaped by feeding stage and nutrient presence


Sigurlaug Skírnisdóttir

Project Manager

The gut microbiome plays an important role in maintaining the health and productivity of farmed fish. However, the functional role of most gut microorganisms remains unknown. Identifying the stable members of the gut microbiota and understanding their functional roles could help in the selection of positive traits or act as a proxy for fish health in aquaculture. Here, we analyze the gut microbial community of farmed juvenile Arctic char (Salvelinus alpinus) and reconstruct the metabolic potential of its main symbionts. The gut microbiota of Arctic char undergoes a succession in community composition during the first weeks post-hatch, with a decrease in Shannon diversity and the establishment of three dominant bacterial taxa. The genome of the most abundant bacteria, a Mycoplasma sp., shows adaptation to rapid growth in the nutrient-rich gut environment. The second most abundant taxon, a Brevinema sp., has versatile metabolic potential, including genes involved in host mucin degradation and utilization. However, during periods of absent gut content, a Ruminococcaceae bacterium becomes dominant, possibly outgrowing all other bacteria through the production of secondary metabolites involved in quorum sensing and cross-inhibition while benefiting the host through short-chain fatty acid production. Whereas Mycoplasma is often present as a symbiont in farmed salmonids, we show that the Ruminococcaceae species is also detected in wild Arctic char, suggesting a close evolutionary relationship between the host and this symbiotic bacterium.

Peer-reviewed articles

Improved sampling and DNA extraction procedures for microbiome analysis in food processing environments


Sigurlaug Skírnisdóttir

Project Manager

Deep investigation of the microbiome of food-production and food-processing environments through whole-metagenome sequencing (WMS) can provide detailed information on the taxonomic composition and functional potential of the microbial communities that inhabit them, with huge potential benefits for environmental monitoring programs. However, certain technical challenges jeopardize the application of WMS technologies with this aim, with the most relevant one being the recovery of a sufficient amount of DNA from the frequently low-biomass samples collected from the equipment, tools and surfaces of food-processing plants.

Here, we present the first complete workflow, with optimized DNA-purification methodology, to obtain high-quality WMS sequencing results from samples taken from food-production and food-processing environments and reconstruct metagenome assembled genomes (MAGs). The protocol can yield DNA loads >10 ng in >98% of samples and >500 ng in 57.1% of samples and allows the collection of, on average, 12.2 MAGs per sample (with up to 62 MAGs in a single sample) in ~1 week, including both laboratory and computational work. This markedly improves on results previously obtained in studies performing WMS of processing environments and using other protocols not specifically developed to sequence these types of sample, in which <2 MAGs per sample were obtained. The full protocol has been developed and applied in the framework of the European Union project MASTER (Microbiome applications for sustainable food systems through technologies and enterprise) in 114 food-processing facilities from different production sectors.


The BioProtect project draws attention to Matís' meeting with the EU ambassador

Matís recently received an invitation to visit the premises of the European Union delegation and present Matís' projects that have received funding from the EU, with a special emphasis on the project BioProtect, which recently received funding from the Horizon Europe program.

The EU ambassador, Lucie Samcová-Hall Allen, and the staff of the delegation welcomed the group made up of Matís' project managers and department heads together with Julian Burgos, a marine ecologist at the Norwegian Marine Research Institute who is the scientific leader of the BioProtect project.

During the visit, there was an opportunity to discuss the diverse research and innovation projects that have been funded by the European Union and that Matís has worked on over the years. Lucie also told about the delegation's main projects and the development of their work in Iceland in recent years.

However, the main focus of the visit was the presentation of the research project BioProtect, which officially started yesterday, on May 1, 2024. Sophie Jensen, project manager at Matís leads the project and Julian Burgos is its scientific leader, and they presented their plans for the work of the next four years.

The project is about developing methodologies and technical solutions to facilitate decision-making about resource utilization or the protection of ocean areas. Emphasis is placed on good cooperation with economic partners, which are, for example, shipping companies and fisheries associations, local authorities and especially fishing communities, national and international governments, nature conservation organizations, researchers, policy makers and experts.

The biological diversity of the sea will be monitored so that it will be possible to account for its status and predict possible changes. There will also be extensive mapping of the use and impact of humans on individual sea areas and species in the sea. An action plan for the prioritization of conservation and restoration measures will also be prepared, as well as an assessment of the ecological, social and economic effects of these conservation measures in five ocean areas, ie by Iceland, Norway, Ireland, Portugal and the Azores.

Ísey Dísa Hávarsdóttir, communication specialist at Matís, Lucie Samcová-Hall Allen, EU ambassador to Iceland, Sophie Jensen, project manager of BioProtect, Jónas R. Viðarsson, department manager at Matís, Julian Burgos, scientific leader of BioProtect and Samuel Ulfgard, deputy EU ambassador to Iceland .

We thank you very much for the wonderful welcome and hope for continued good relations with the EU delegation in Iceland.


A brief survey of local food systems

You are invited to participate in a research project on local food systems carried out within the European project Cities2030. Cities2030 is funded by the European Union's Horizon2020 programme. It has 41 participants who share a similar vision of how to improve food systems. The survey is developed by the Cities2030 project and coordinated by Ca' Foscari University in Venice (more information can be found at:


The survey aims to identify obstacles and weaknesses of local food systems using a city-region food system approach. As part of this research, we are collecting the opinions of people in many European countries and their experiences with local food systems. The data will be used by the Cities2030 project to develop future recommendations through in-depth research.


The survey is electronic and completely anonymous. Your participation in the survey is voluntary and should take about 10 minutes to complete. You can refuse to participate in the survey or withdraw from it at any time (without penalty). Answering each question is a requirement.

Click here to join.


Matís' annual report for 2023 is out

Matís' annual report for 2023 is now available on the website.

Matís's research has always played a key role in the development of Icelandic food production and biotechnology, and it has formed an important bridge between science and industry that connects research and innovation to the needs of the industry.

Matís's research also serves to meet both opportunities and challenges, both in the present and in the future. Especially when considering increased sustainability, value creation and food security. If we want to continue producing food for our own consumption and participate in promoting food production internationally, we need to maintain the relationship between research and industry that Matís has built. These relationships are therefore not only important for current production, but they lay the foundation for how we will produce and consume food in the future.

The annual report can be accessed here.


Matís fish farming team's visit to Stolt Sea farm

Matís' fish farming team visited Stolt Sea Farm in April and we thank you for the warm welcome. The majority of Icelanders are probably not well informed about this cool company located at the far end of Reykjanes.

It is an international company, with headquarters in Spain, which produces sand isomer (turbot) and Senegal sole, but last year the company's production was about 6,900 tons of sand isomer and 1,700 tons of Senegal sole. Stolt is proud to have production in 16 locations worldwide, but here in Iceland only Senegal flour is produced and last year's production was around 250 tons. The flounder is a warm-water fish, and the company uses cooling water from HS Orku's power plant, which is located next to the fish farm, to keep the fish at an ideal temperature of around 23°C.

Stolt plans to increase production in the coming years. That increase will probably not take place in this country, but the company has been expanding its infrastructure in Spain and Portugal in recent seasons. As you can see in the graph below, the company has a goal of tripling its production in the next 10 years.

As for the production of Senegal flour, Stolt aims to increase its production from 1,700 tons to 4,700 tons by 2028, as can be seen in the picture below.

Solt Sea Farm is a progressive company that invested 10.7% of its income in Research and Development, which is a ratio that we at Matís appreciate. Matís wishes this cool company good luck in the coming years and expects that the cooperation between the companies will grow and prosper.