The UK Crop Microbiome Cryobank

Project supported by the Phytobiomes Alliance

Funded by

Biotechnology and Biotechnology Sciences Research Council (BBSRC ) – UK Research Innovation


5 years


1st October 2020 – 30 September 2025

Project Overview

Plant microbiomes are the microbial communities essential to the whole ecological area of a plant’s ‘phytobiome’ – a term used to describe a plant’s specific ecological area. Having a healthy phytobiome is critical to crop health, improved crop yields and quality food. However, crop microbiomes are relatively under-researched. The UK Crop Microbiome Cryobank project will develop a unique, exploitable and integrated resource that will provide the biological and bioinformatic tools to enable the development of solutions to improve soil and crop health. Six of the UK’s key crops will be the focus and usable outputs will underpin UK research activity in line with the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) strategic priorities in agriculture and food security. The project will support three of the UN’s Sustainable-Development Goals: Zero Hunger, Responsible Consumption, and Production and Life on Land.


The key projected outputs of the UK-CMCB project will include:

  • A cryopreserved resource of characterized material from crop microbiomes with a prioritized collection strategy, consisting of fungi, bacteria and ‘whole’ microbiome samples. Frozen samples will also be made publicly available through the CABI database and linked to genomic data
  • Robust methodologies, which will be available to researchers, for collection and storage of intact microbial communities in environmental samples and extracts of total DNA
  • Using ‘state-of-the-art’ cryopreservation technology to develop advanced cryopreservation regimes which will enhance the capability of sustainably maintaining the resource in a genotypically and phenotypically stable state Genomic characterization of samples for assessing microbial diversity (including symbionts, endophytes, pathogens), from whole community taxonomies (bacteria, fungi, viruses) to individual isolate genomes, will be undertaken
  • Finding new biological-based products for the Agritech industry which will be demonstrated to the user community and will take advantage of Plant Growth Promoting Rhizobacteria (PGPR) isolation and synthetic community construction
  • A validated sequence resources database, ‘AgMicrobiome Base’ linked to European Bioinformatics Institute (EBI) tools and data and available to the Agritech sector and researchers, including model organisms and novel product outputs.

The resource will begin to be made available during the first year of the project. It will then expand throughout the duration of the project.

Key personnel

Matthew Ryan (CABI)

Tim Mauchline, Rothamsted Research

Nicola Holden, Scotland’s Rural College

Jake Malone, John Innes Centre

Sue Jones, James Hutton Institute

Kellye Eversole is a member of the advisory group.

Project Partners