Rooting for a better life

Roots are the foundation of life

Plant roots are important to life on our planet. Roots not only securely ground the plants in the soil but also take in water and nutrients that the plants need for healthy growth. Without roots, a plant cannot grow or survive and we, humans, will not have food without them.


Plant roots consist of cells in different shapes and sizes, but not all of them are well known at this moment. To really understand the underground life of roots, we first need to get a complete picture of how all those root cells are built up. How exactly do they transmit signals to each other? And how do they communicate with the rest of the plant above the ground? The more we learn about the cells and genes in plant roots, the more we can understand why certain roots are better at withstanding heat, drought, or flooding. What researchers need for this understanding is a freely accessible root cell atlas. Unfortunately, this is not yet readily available.


But you can help with that! Your generosity will help plant scientists at Radboud University to develop and continuously improve an unprecedented RootCellAtlas and make it publicly available for researchers across the world.


Donate now



Root cell atlas

The RootCellAtlas enables scientists to better visualize and understand the life of the roots. By using the most advanced research techniques, we can now determine which of the 27.000 genes are activated for each individual root cell. As a result, a unique profile is mapped for each gene and projected onto a virtual root. In this way, plant researchers all over the world can easily read out how certain genes are expressed in the root and how they differ from other root cell types or subtypes. This is key to understanding at the gene level how the root cells are formed.

Food security

“My long-term goal is to translate scientific knowledge into practical possibilities for climate adaptation and sustainable agriculture, such as to accelerate the breeding and selection of heat-, drought- and flooding-tolerant crops. This initiative can offer a whole new perspective on adaptation and evolution. By supporting this initiative, you contribute to the development of food security for all.”

Prof. Dr. J. Xu, plant scientist at the Radboud Institute for Biological and Environmental Sciences (RIBES)