The CHIC project aims to develop sets of new chicory varieties to produce, on one hand, more and healthier inulin food fiber and, on the other hand, identify and produce medicinal terpenes in sufficient amounts. These varieties are developed via genome editing. Safety, socio-economic and environmental impact as well as stakeholders’ needs and concerns when implementing such new varieties are also investigated in this project.

As highlights, the first chicory plants with adaptations in the genome of both the inulin and terpene biosynthesis pathways are now growing in the greenhouses until the stage that the effect of the adaptations on the inulin and terpene accumulation can be studied in the roots. Many more plants are still being produced. Methods for testing safety aspects such as off-target mutations are in development. Bioassays with extracts from roots of wild-type chicory have detected some interesting medicinal activities, including possible leads for novel antibiotics.

The CHIC project is also evaluated on its socio-economic and environmental impact six commercialisation scenarios were defined that differ in aspects such as whether CRISPR edited chicory is regulated as GMO or not, whether it is grown in the open field or greenhouses and what type of products are isolated from them.The changes at the regulatory field has consequences for the CHIC project.

Want to know more?  Read the fifth newsletter of CHIC project and explore the explanatory videos available at

EPSO is partner in the CHIC project focusing on stakeholder engagement and supporting communication.

CHIC is a research and innovation project supported through the EU Horizon 2020 funding programme with a budget of €7.3 million

Contacts: Macarena Sanz, ID Consortium, ES – Dirk Bosch, Wageningen University, NL (Coordinator)

The report summarises the current status, goals and next steps in plants and microbiomes research. It serves the science community to further advance the field and improve collaboration. It provides recommendations as science advice to policy to the European Commission and national research and innovation funders.

There are major national initiatives going on, reported were those from Germany (by Paul Schulze-Lefert), Denmark (by Mette Haubjerg Nicolaisen) and the Netherlands (by Harro Bouwmeester). These need to be better linked and complemented by Europe-wide initiatives under Horizon Europe, for example by calls in cluster 6 and openings to be created in the Biodiversity partnership and the Soil Mission.

Recommendations focus on the following issues:

  • Diverse crops with diverse microbiomes for diverse diets for human and animal health and resilient production systems
  • Moving from correlation to causation under lab, greenhouse and field conditions
  • More understanding on the complexity of the ecosystem-plant-microbiome system is needed
  • Plant mechanisms to attract / interact with microbiota require understanding
  • Precompetitive research should address the identification of microbiome-based plant health and resilience indicators and microbiome understanding needed by the industry
  • European infrastructure recommended for plant microbiome research
  • Open access databases integrating (plant) microbiome and meta-data are required

Detailed information from the break-out discussion groups, the workshop programme and the list of participants are available in the Annex to the report.

The group agreed on specific actions regarding infrastructure and databases for the coming months. The Working Group will meet again online end January 2022 to discuss their progress on these as well as hearing highlights from (multi-)national plants and microbiomes research and innovation.

Contact us to get involved in the coming months
Angela Sessitsch, Paul Schulze-Lefert, Corné Pieterse and Karin Metzlaff

Click here to read:  The workshop report and the Annex report, 1.9.2021

Angela Sessitsch, Paul Schulze-Lefert, Corné Pieterse and Karin Metzlaff

The 5th European-wide seminar of the new series supported by the European Plant Science Organisation (EPSO) and aimed at the Plant Science community and its stakeholders.

TTT: The seminar will be held online each third Thursday of the month at three (CET).

On 16th September 2021 at 15:00 (CET) we will present three talks exploring “Control of Senescence”

Prof Astrid Wingler, University College Cork, Ireland
“Regulation of leaf senescence in response to carbon supply and temperature”




Prof Hilary Rogers, University of Cardiff, UK
“Plant organ senescence – life and death decisions”




Prof Stefan Jansson, Umeå University, Sweden
“Control of autumn senescence in aspen”




The seminars will be hosted on Zoom and last approximately 1.5 hours. Numbers will be limited to 300 attendees and therefore please register early if you would like to join. There will be ample opportunities to ask questions and join the debate. So please join us to support this new and exciting initiative for European Plant Science by following this link just prior to the start of the seminar.

EPSO members register in advance for this meeting:

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

In the coming months we will be on the lookout for talented plant scientists among the EPSO membership to present their findings and perspectives to the EPSO seminar series. If we approach you to talk, we hope you will be happy to support the initiative. This is a fantastic opportunity for both eminent world leaders and talented up-and-coming early career researchers to present their research to an international audience and to network with potential collaborators. If you wish to suggest a theme for one of the autumn seminars and / or nominate yourself or one of your colleagues to give a seminar, we most welcome your suggestions. First ideas for autumn include ‘alternative protein source for Europe’, ‘diverse crops for Europe’ and ‘future plant nutrition’. Please contact Tim George ([email protected]) to provide your name and potential talk title.

We look forward to seeing you all for the 5th EPSO seminar on the 17th June 2021

Tim George, Alan Schulman and Emily Breeze
EPSO Plant Science Seminar Series Organising Committee

Click here to read: Full EPSO news item


Tim George, Hutton / UK & EPSO Board
Alan Schulman, LUKE / FI & EPSO President
Emily Breeze, Warwick University / UK

Building on the discussions from the June meeting, the September meeting of this WG will prepare a statement on research needs, discuss potential proposals to Horizon Europe 2022 calls and prepare a statement on the new EU Forest Strategy.

The meeting intends to increase collaborations between the working group members both bi-and multi-lateral. In addition, the statements the WG will prepare will include recommendations on R&I as science advice to policy to the European Commission as well as national authorities.

The workshop will be held online 27 September 2021 from 8 am – 12 noon Brussels time.

Draft agenda: 

  1. Preparation of a statement on the need for
  • fundamental research to support high-quality applications in Horizon Europe topics and calls
  • further strengthen forests as production systems as a tool in climate change mitigation
  • inclusion of research on contingency & alternative species
  • developing advanced data bases.
  1. Analysis of Horizon Europe available information 2021-22 and beyond
  • on the ideas towards 2023-2024 calls to identify sections to provide input for, in relation with (1.)
  • on the 2022 calls published to identify topics in which a consortium could emerge from the Tree & Forest WG.
  1. Preparation of a statement on the new EU Forest Strategy.

 Administrative information

Log-in details for the online meeting will be sent to registered participants.

EPSO members: We kindly ask you to register for your participation to the workshop by 10 September by e-mail to Karin Metzlaff.

We very much look forward to your contributions and to welcoming you at the workshop.

Ivan Scotti, Berthold Heinze, Roger Hellens and Karin Metzlaff

Ivan Scotti (INRE / FR, chair), Berthold Heinze (BFW / AT, chair), Roger Hellens (Scion / NZ, chair) and Karin Metzlaff (EPSO Executive Director)

Our climate is changing and the world population is growing to an estimated 10 billion people by 2050. This may cause serious problems in global food supply, protection of the environment and safeguarding Earth’s biodiversity.

To face this challenge, agriculture will have to adapt and a key element in this will be the development of “future proof” crops. These crops not only will have to be high-yielding, but also should be able to withstand future climate conditions and will have to make very efficient use of scarce resources like water, phosphorus and minerals.

Future crops not only should sustainably give access to sufficient, nutritious, and diverse food to a worldwide growing population, but also support the circular bio-based economy and contribute to lower atmospheric CO2 concentration to counteract global warming.

Future-proofing our crops is an urgent issue and a challenging goal that only can be realized by a large-scale, international research cooperation. We call for international action and propose a pan-European research and innovation initiative, the CropBooster Program, to mobilize the European plant research community and all interested actors in agri-food research and innovation to face the challenge

Read the full opinion paper by J Harbinson, M Parry, J Davies, N Rolland, F Loreto, R Wilhelm K Metzlaff R Klein Langhorst published in Biology 2021 here ( It was developed in the CropBooster-P project ( ), funded under Horizon Europe grant agreement number 817690.

EPSO will start a new Working Group on ‘Future Proofed Crops’ after the summer break with a focus on abiotic stress. EPSO members contact [email protected] to become WG member. Non-members to become WG observer.

Karin Metzlaff (Executive Director EPSO, CropBooster partner)
Jeremy Harbinson (WUR, CropBooster leader strategy WP)
Rene Klein Langhorst (WUR, CropBooster coordinator, co-chair Future Proofed Crops EPSO WG)
Andreas Weber (Uni Duesseldorf, CropBooster partner, co-chair Future Proofed Crops EPSO WG)

Photo by European Commission

18 countries with which association negotiations are being processed, or where association is imminent: Albania, Armenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Faroe Islands, Georgia, Iceland, Israel, Kosovo, Moldova, Montenegro, Morocco, North Macedonia, Norway, Serbia, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine and UK.

The EC aims for ratification of the association agreements on Horizon Europe association giving third countries access to the research programme by the end 2021.

Today, the Swiss State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation, SERI, confirms that Switzerland will not be considered as an associated country but treated as a non-associated third country. Swiss scientists can participate in Horizon Europe proposals (ca. 2/3 of Horizon Europe is accessible) and will be funded separately by the SERI until new agreements are found.

Some points from the official Status Update of SERI:

  • Switzerland will be treated as a non-associated third country in Horizon Europe, the Euratom programme and the Digital Europe Programme. Furthermore, the EU no longer considers Switzerland a state contributing to the construction of ITER.
  • The Federal Council remains committed to its goal of a full association to Horizon Europe and other related programmes and initiatives as soon as possible.
  • Applicants based in Switzerland must submit their project proposals for the corresponding calls in the year 2021 as participants from a non-associated third country as of now.
  • With this status, project participants in Switzerland can still participate in approximately 2/3 of Horizon Europe and notably in most collaborative projects.
  • The Swiss project partner will not be funded by the EC but by the SERI

Read the full news item below:

Read the Swiss State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation, SERI, Fact sheet on Horizon Europe, 13.7.2021 below:

Karin Metzlaff (Executive Director EPSO)
Roland Peters (Agroscope, CH)