The natural compound cis-cinnamic acid has a remarkably strong effect on plant growth, and
particularly on the roots. Recent results from our research explain this to be a consequence of the
improper distribution of the plant hormone auxin. However, when applied at optimal
concentrations we found that cis-cinnamic acid has a positive effect on the growth of different
plant species. This specific characteristic proves the potential of this compound for use in
agriculture, as it could increase plant production efficiency. A patent was filed by VIB, and several
companies already showed interest in using cis-cinnamic acid as a plant growth-promoting
compound. In this project, we want to test the growth-promoting properties of molecules with
similar molecular structures to cis-cinnamic acid. The goal is to provide insights regarding the
requirements of the molecular structure of cis-cinnamic acid to act as a stimulator of plant growth.
In addition, this research will extend our set of bioactive molecules and could result in new
molecules with higher activity compared to cis-cinnamic acid. In parallel, we will try to get an
insight into the mode of action of cis-cinnamic acid-mediated growth promotion. This could lead
to novel, innovative strategies to optimize plant production.