PLAMORF focuses on Plant Mobile RNAs: Function, Transport and Features.


ERC | Synergy Grant


€ 6.1 million

Start date



72 months

Project details

The challenge

An essential consequence of multi-cellularity is the need for intercellular and tissue-wide communication, which happens through transport of signalling molecules. In higher plants long-distance transport of signalling molecules occurs mainly via the phloem.

In addition to small molecules, a remarkably large number of macromolecules such as micro RNAs (miRNAs), protein producing messenger RNAs (mRNAs), and RNA-binding proteins (RBPs) have been identified in the phloem, representing additional classes of signalling molecules.

The solution

We develop predictive models, using single cell transcriptomics to establish cell-type specific RNA transport and motifs, and study the structure, affinity, and functions of phloem transported RNAs associated proteins. We combine the advantages of the agronomically important oilseed rape with the well-established A. thaliana belonging to the same plant family.

The main impacts

In analogy to electronic data processing, we will develop mathematical models for the long-distance transport of communication molecules in plants. Integrating the cell biology of active genes with protein and RNA structures within the framework of information theory will be an indispensable component of success.

In addition to the scientific work, the team has planned a series of activities to bring the research topic to the public's attention. Main target groups of such communication activities are pupils, the general public, plant breeders, agriculture, politicians and, of course, other scientists.


PLAMORF is funded by the European Research Council (ERC). The ERC, set up by the EU in 2007, is the premiere European funding organisation for excellent frontier research. Every year, it selects and funds the very best, creative researchers of any nationality and age, to run projects based in Europe.

The ERC offers four core grant schemes: Starting, Consolidator, Advanced and Synergy Grants. With its additional Proof of Concept grant scheme, the ERC helps grantees to bridge the gap between grantees’ pioneering research and early phases of its commercialisation.