In my PhD project I want to identify and characterize proteases secreted from SynCom members (Niu et al., 2017) and decipher their role in response to N- depletion. Previous work, in which protease-secreting bacteria associated with maize roots were identified, also showed that genes for proteolysis are significantly more abundant in root-associated bacteria than in soil and certain classes of proteases are highly expressed in endophytic bacterial communities. This body of evidence indicates that plants might “select” for bacterial strains that promote an advantage under certain conditions, e.g. availability of nitrogen. We hypothesize that bacterial proteases can improve nitrogen acquisition under poor nitrogen conditions and that plants recruit bacteria-producing proteases to enhance plant nitrogen uptake.