PLAMORF: Long-distance RNA signalling in plants





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

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.

Research questions and approach

  • How are mobile RNAs selected for transport?
  • How specific is RNA mobility?
  • What determines their destination?
  • How are these signals processed in the destination cells?

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.


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.

News & Blog


PLAMORF PhD positions available!

The PhD program at Max Planck Institute of Molecular Plant Physiology is currently accepting applications! Apply until the 5th Feburary 2020 to join Fritz Kraglers group and work on PLAMORF.

Publication: m5C methylation guides systemic transport of messenger RNA over graft junctions in plants

Based on first results from PLAMORF and previous projects, this recent publication by Yang et al. from the Kragler lab in Current Biology points towards an essential role of cytosine methylation in systemic mRNA mobility in plants.

PLAMORF Kick-off meeting

Lab members of all three PLAMORF research groups, as well as members of the Scientific Advisory Board attended the PLAMORF Kick-off meeting in Berlin from 22nd to 24th July 2019.

Twitter feed

🥂Congratulations! PLAMORF scientist Ying Xu, now Dr. Ying Xu, successfully defended her PhD thesis on #RNA #transport! #phdlife #plantsci
@qpb_journal: #QPB's mission is to become the venue for plant biologists, bio-engineers, and mathematical/computational/physical scientists to publish their data collection, collation and analysis of the plant sciences. Learn more about us today:
@JohnInnesCentre: NEWS - Applications are now OPEN. Independent Research Fellowships Leading to Tenured Faculty Positions at the John Innes Centre (JIC) Closing date – Friday 25th November 2022 For more info:

PLAMORF in a nutshell

Fact box

Title: Plant mobile RNAs: function, transport and features (PLAMORF)
Start: 1.4.2019
Duration: 6 years
Keywords: plant, tranport, mobile RNA, signalling, phloem, RNA-binding proteins, oilseed rape, A. thaliana
Budget: 6.1 million
Funding: ERC synergy grant

Research groups:

Friedrich Kragler, Max-Planck-Institut für Molekulare Pflanzenphysiologie, Golm, Germany
Julia Kehr, Universität Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany
Richard Morris, John Innes Centre, Norwich, United Kingdom



This project has received funding from the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (Grant agreement No. 810131)