Aarhus University Seal / Aarhus Universitets segl

Jens Stougaard



Recent research on plants and their naturally associated microorganisms has laid the groundwork to look into new perspectives and concepts for understanding plant function, performance and growth under limited input conditions. These new perspectives will help to reduce the environmental footprint and have the potential to define breeding targets and develop applications through microbial interventions. InRoot links plant and bacterial genetics, protein chemistry, analytical chemistry and plant physiology with bacterial and plant population biodiversity studies and advanced modeling.

The overarching aim of InRoot is to establish knowledge and tools for the evidence-based development of new resilient crops and associated microbial interventions that will improve productivity, reduce the need for fertilizers and pesticides, and alleviate negative environmental impacts accompanying food production. In order to do this InRoot looks at both the plant and bacterial contributions to crop resiliency. InRoot is organized around six research area that combine investigations of the natural diversity, host controlled rhizosphere and endosphere interactions, root responses, plant physiology and advanced modeling in a tightly interconnected and iterative workflow.

The InRoot project is funded for 6 years, 2019-2025, by the Novo Nordisk Foundation and is part of Novo Nordisk’s wider ‘Collaborative Crop Resilience Program’ (CCRP).

For more information see: inroot.au.dk


NORFAB (NORthern FABa) is a consortium of Northern hemisphere groups with key expertise in Faba beans who aim to develop sophisticated genomics-based plant breeding methods and provide access to germplasm with the relevant genetic diversity. NORFAB aims to improve the yield and quality of faba bean seeds in order to make them a competitive protein crop in northern European and Canadian/US northern prairie conditions. Research on Faba bean genomics and genetics will be developed using new genotyping and phenotyping methodologies and new hybrid approaches combining genomic selection with QTL mapping and gene introgression. The methods for genomics-based breeding will be developed by the university partners and implemented by the industry partners involved in the project. The approach will target multigene control of seed quality, content of protein, fiber and antinutritional factors along with agronomical traits.

The NORFAB project is funded by an Innovationsfonden Grand Solutions grant, 2016-2021.


RINFEC aims to identify and characterize the plant and bacterial genes responsible for interactions between plant roots and soil bacteria. The hypothesis behind the project is that the intercellular infection mechanism used by symbiotic rhizobia is an evolutionary development of a mechanism(s) that already exists to regulate plant root interaction with endophytic bacteria living within plant roots. By characterizing this unexplored intercellular mode of infection in Lotus japonicus, we hope to uncover both the plant and bacterial genetics involved as well as the biochemical processor that controls these mechanisms.

RINFEC will exploit Lotus’ capacity to support either intercellular entry (conserved mode) or legume specific infection thread entry, dependent on the rhizobia encountered. This allows comparative investigations of these two infection modes in simple binary interactions with the same host. Given the exceptional ability of different rhizobia for intercellular endophytic colonization of non-legume roots this provides an unprecedented platform to identify mechanisms by which plants selectively enable a subset of bacteria to infect roots. RINFEC will pioneer novel plant and bacterial genetic methods, cell-layer transcriptomics, phospho-proteomics and advanced biochemistry to break new ground in understanding infection and soil microbe influences on plant performance under environmental stress conditions.

The RINFEC project is funded by an ERC Advanced Grant from the European Research Council and runs for 5 years, 2019-2024.

Peer-reviewed articles

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