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New STW-grant to redirect the plant micro biome: “Back to the Roots”

Professors Jos Raaijmakers (NIOO) and Gilles Van Wezel (IBL) received an STW Perspectief- grant of €3 million from the Dutch Technology Foundation and several supporting companies.

The research team of Raaijmakers and van Wezel, including collaborators from Utrecht and Wageningen University, will investigate the possibilities for restoring microbial support functions in modern crops by exploring and exploiting the biodiversity and beneficial functions of microbial communities living in native habitats in or on seeds and roots of wild ancestor species.


The new project targets the genomic and metabolic potential of currently unknown microorganisms that live in or on seeds and roots for diverse applications in food, feed and pharma. The researchers combine academic expertise with industrial partners that are active in the fields of sustainable crop production and natural product discovery. The ultimate goal is to deliver novel technology to: i) improve seed germination, seedling vigour, plant growth and productivity, ii) increase plant tolerance to abiotic and biotic stress iii) identify seed and root exudates that elicit the production of novel antimicrobials, and iv) identify the antimicrobial compounds and test them for industrial and medical applications.

Financial support

The project is funded by STW for a premium of €2.1 million and supporting companies add €0.9 million. These companies include: DSM, Corbion, BaseClear, BioDetection Systems (BDS). Bejo Seeds, Enza Seeds, RijkZwaan, Koppert, IncoTec and PlanthealthCure.


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