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Metaprogrammes: an interdisciplinary research tool

Faced with the scope and complexity of agricultural research challenges, INRA has since 2011 been implementing a tool for the organisation of research: metaprogrammes that enable the federation of scientists from different disciplines.

Philippe Lemanceau, research director, director of the Agroecology Research Unit of INRA Dijon in a meeting with his team. © INRA, SLAGMULDER Christian
By Pascale Mollier, translated by Vicky Hawken
Updated on 06/22/2017
Published on 05/13/2016

. © INRA
Better food for the world, the sustainable management of plant and animal health, or adaptation to climate change... the current challenges faced by agricultural research are global in their scope and need to be addressed by a range of scientific disciplines.  For this reason, INRA's orientation document for 2010-2020 introduced a new method for the management of research: metaprogrammes, or interdisciplinary research programmes.  Metaprogrammes offer a long-term approach to highly integrated issues (the adaptation of agriculture to climate change, transitions to ensure global food security, etc.).  Eight metaprogrammes have thus been launched since 2011.

In practice…

The metaprogrammes are coordinated by Research Division Heads, who federate and manage research projects implemented by several INRA Divisions, thus fostering an interdisciplinary approach.  The launch of a metaprogramme is generally accompanied by a call for projects in order to encourage proposals from different teams.  Coordination tools may be of several types: a call for exploratory research projects, the initiation of networks, the organisation of international seminars, grants for doctoral students or post-doctoral scientists, etc.

The eight metaprogrammes currently in operation

INRA's eight current metaprogrammes cover the major thematic priorities of the Institute.  Furthermore, six of them are linked to the theme of Agroecology, one of the two emerging areas identified in the 2010-2020 orientation document, alongside predictive biology: EcoServ, ACCAF, GISA, MEM, SelGen and SMaCH.

  • ACCAF: Adaptation of Agriculture and Forests to Climate Change
  • DID’IT: Diet Impacts and Determinants: Interactions and Transitions
  • EcoServ: Ecosystem Services: scientific foundations to evaluate the services rendered by agro-ecosystems, their optimisation thanks to the territorial organisation of activities and the proposal of public policy instruments
  • GISA: Integrated Management of Animal Health
  • GloFoodS: Transitions to Global Food Security
  • MEM: Meta-omics and Microbial Ecosystems: research on the metagenomics of a range of microbial ecosystems (soils, pathosystems, rumen, human gut, foods, etc.)
  • SelGen: Genomic Selection
  • SMaCH: Sustainable Management of Crop Health