Marie Skłodowska-Curie Action ITN MICROMETABOLITE

“MICROMETABOLITE” – Research Training Network on the Microbial Enhancement of
Bioactive Secondary Metabolite Production in Plants

The new ITN (MARIE SKŁODOWSKA-CURIE ACTION Innovative Training Network) Project “MICROMETABOLITE”, Microbial Enhancement of Bioactive Secondary Metabolite Production in Plants started in May 2017. As an international PhD program funded by the European Community’s Framework programme HORIZON 2020 for 4 years, it offers 11 highly motivated early-stage researchers the opportunity to improve their research and entrepreneurial skills and enhance their career prospects.
Under coordination of AIT, MICROMETABOLITE combines 5 academic and 1 SME beneficiaries and is supported by 5 company partners (4 SMEs and a big pharmaceutical/cosmeceutical company) and 2 partner organisations belonging to the broader public sector.

The project

MICROMETABOLITEMICROMETABOLITE brings together multi-disciplinary and multi-sectoral expertise to elaborate the application of microorganisms, aimed at improving the production of natural plant products as the basis for a wide range of pharmaceutical and cosmetics products.

Multidisciplinary: MICROMETABOLITE combines experts on microbial diversity assessment, plant-microbe interactions, plant and microbial genome and transcriptome analysis, plant-based production systems, natural product chemistry and technology, metabolomics, secondary metabolites identification and metabolite production and application, who will share their know-how within the consortium.

Intersectoral: MICROMETABOLITE reinforces the interaction between public and private sectors. The participation of SMEs and a big company active in the production of medicinal plants, application of microorganisms, and discovery/development of novel bioactive compounds enable to follow a novel and innovative concept, and it empowers the partners and ESRs to transfer the concept to additional partners of the industry sector. MICROMETABOLITE will include the active participation of 7 partner organisations providing expertise by offering trainings in analytical procedures needed in different industry sectors, regulatory issues, and complementary skills.


The overall objective of MICROMETABOLITE is to explore interactions between plants and microorganisms involved in the production of secondary metabolites (SM) for introducing novel ingredients in pharmaceutical and cosmeceutical industry. Effects of microorganisms on the plant metabolome and the biosynthesis of bioactive SM will be studied in the Boraginaceae plant family, aimed at optimising plant cultivation and alkannins/shikonins (A/S) production. Microorganisms will be integrated in plant production systems, and protocols needed for efficient implementation in industry will be elaborated. Thereby a platform will be established that will support long-term interactions between academia and industry.


Role of Ghent University

UGent is one of the 5 academic partners of MICROMETABOLITE. It hosts 2 of the 11 ESRs and will receive other ESRs for training secondments. The UGent partner is overall responsible for the Training work package.





Prof. Anne Willems
Department Biochemistry and Microbiology
Phone number: 09 264 5103