CORDIS - EU research results

Metatranscriptomics to discover root microbiome functions activated during recognition of stressed and non-stressed plants (MetaFun)

Project description

Understanding who helps plants respond to environmental stress and how

Stress is not good for anyone, plants included, and much as the human microbiome is important in health and disease, so is the plant microbiome. When subjected to environmental stress, plants recruit help from certain members of their microbiome family to recover. Given the increasing incidence of severe weather events and overall climate change, understanding how plant microbiota help their host to survive environmental threats will be important to ensuring crop performance in the future and could also aid in enhancing it now. The EU-funded MetaFun project is investigating microbiota activities as well as microbe–microbe interactions in the root that are activated under various conditions. Insight will be important for the present and future of agricultural crop performance.


Plants benefit from their microbiome for specific functions such as nutrient uptake, defense and growth. When exposed to environmental stress conditions, plants are able to recruit specific helper microbiota to aid in the recovery from the stress. Understanding mechanisms underlying the interaction between plants and the myriad of microorganisms living in association with them is fundamental to fully harness the genomic potential of these microbes to improve crop agricultural performance. With a metatranscriptomics approach, MetaFun aims at investigating:
1) the microbiome functions involved in chemical communication with the host plant;
2) microbiome functions that become activated in response to recognition of a plant in need and act in co-operation within a community to help the plant to adapt to environmental stress.
The innovative approach of MetaFun is based on the identification of microbial activities that become activated in response to specific biotic/abiotic stresses using a metagenomics and metatranscriptomics approach. Moreover, by combining a powerful experimental design, high resolution RNA-sequencing and advanced computational tools, MetaFun aims to decipher microbe-microbe interactions within the plant-associated microbiomes. The implementation of the MetaFun research project, combined with its training program carried out in an excellent scientific environment, represent a unique opportunity to restart the career of the experienced researcher and become an independent scientist.


Net EU contribution
€ 263 358,72
3584 CS Utrecht

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West-Nederland Utrecht Utrecht
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Total cost
€ 263 358,72