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Systemic Induced Root Exudation of Metabolites: A Multimodal Approach to Uncover Root Signaling Mechanisms and the Chemical Language used by Plants to Shape the Rhizosphere Microbiome

Project description

Root signalling in the formation of the rhizosphere microbiome

A considerable part of plants’ most valuable elements such as carbon and nitrogen are secreted by roots into the soil in the form of chemically rich exudates. This is considered the chemical language of plants in their underground communication with billions of microorganisms. But how do plants control and manipulate root metabolism and exudation in time and space in their favour? The EU-funded SIREM project envisages deciphering the recently discovered process of Systemic Induced Root Exudation of Metabolites. SIREM is a fundamental characteristic of rhizosphere interactions responsible for the maintenance of plant fitness. The project will anatomise the SIREM signalling pathways, discover the exudation mechanism and its genetic control, and establish the role of SIREM signalling and exudation metabolites in the formation of the rhizosphere microbiome.


The prosperity of plants and human beings is dependent on the outer layer of soil that makes up our planet’s shell. Curiously, a significant portion of plants' most precious elements, carbon and nitrogen, is secreted by roots into soil in the form of chemically-rich exudates. This is not merely 'dumping' of waste but rather the chemical language of plants, used in their underground communication with billions of detrimental and beneficial microorganisms. Yet, an important question remains to date: How do plants control and manipulate root metabolism and exudation in time and space to fine-tune this complex underground web of interactions to their benefit? The proposed project takes on this challenging question and aims to decipher the newly discovered process we term 'SIREM', for 'Systemic Induced Root Exudation of Metabolites'. SIREM is a fundamental feature of rhizosphere interactions, in which biotic stimuli occur locally and exudation in systemic parts of the root ‘conditions’ the rhizosphere environment to maintain plant fitness. SIREM objectives include: (i) dissecting the SIREM signaling pathways, focusing primarily on the mobile signal(s) and receiving proteins at the systemic root; (ii) discovery of the exudation machinery and its genetic control; and (iii) establishing the role of SIREM signaling and exudation-metabolites in shaping the rhizosphere microbiome. The unconventional integration of approaches in SIREM underscores the unique combination of our team's expertise in plant metabolism, computational biology, microbiome exploration and the application of cutting-edge analytical and molecular technologies for high-resolution spatial-temporal profiling. Outcomes of the project will have wide-ranging impacts on understanding systemic signaling and metabolic and transport systems in plants and are anticipated to drive the new biotechnological concept of 'Exudation Agriculture'.

Host institution

Net EU contribution
€ 2 500 000,00
7610001 Rehovot

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Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Total cost
€ 2 500 000,00

Beneficiaries (1)