Group leader: Emilia López Solanilla - Associate Professor

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Group leader: Pablo Rodríguez Palenzuela - Professor

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Dickeya dadantii 3937 (Dd3937) and Pseudomonas syringae pv tomato DC3000 (Pto) are considered models of two different pathogenic styles in phytopathogenic bacteria. Moreover, these two bacteria are the causal agents of damages in crops.

Our recent research has been focused in the comparative study of different aspects related to the entry, survival and manipulation of host plants. The results obtained have arisen new questions regarding these processes. Light and chloroplast functions are being considered key regulators of plant defense response. Research regarding light perception in nonphototrophic bacteria is unveiling that this process is a source of information for the bacterial adaptation to the media. However, little is known about the perception and response to light in phytopathogenic bacteria and this aspect might be relevant in a coevolutionary scene between plants and their potential pathogens. An active movement has been shown to be necessary for bacterial entry through wounds into the host plant. In Dd3937, the chemoattractant properties of molecules like jasmonate released from wounds arises the question about which other molecules could be involved in the chemoattraction to the wounds. Lipoxygenases (LOX) and dioxygenases (DOXs) have been described as enzymes activated in wounds, and jasmonate and oxylipins are products of LOXs activities. Identifying the bacterial chemoreceptor (MCPs) involved in the perception of such compounds could shed light about the entry process.



  • How do bacteria sense light and how does it influence the virulence?
  • What is the impact of derivatives of the activity of lipoxygenases and dioxygenases generated in a wound on the entry process mediated by chemotaxis?
  • Which MDR transporters are involved in the survival in the apoplast and which compounds are they transporting?

The information obtained will be of high interest for the development of interference strategies during the establishment of bacterial plant infection.



Our lab has done pioneer work in studying how bacteria defend themselves against toxic substances from the plant, as antimicrobial peptides, reactive oxygen molecules and acidic pH. Also, our previous results demonstrated that individual MDR systems of Dd 3937 play an important role in the pathogenesis of this bacterium towards several hosts. Moreover, recent results from our group show that motility-deficient mutants have diminished virulence in several assays. In the same context, our finding that jasmonate is a chemoattractant for this bacterium lead us to the hypothesis that jasmonate-mediated attraction to plant wounds is a key factor for the pathogenicity of Dd 3937. Also, we have contributed to the characterization of effector proteins of Pto, and particularly to the study of HopN1 and its effect over chloroplast functions.

We have recently developed a mutation grid in Dd 3937 and Pto using a mini Tn-5 cassette harboring a promoterless gus delator gene. This tool is enabling us to isolate specific mutants in a very efficient and systematic way. Also, microarray hybridization analysis is routinely working in the lab, as well as several virulence assays in crop plants with both model pathogens. In addition we have technical expertise and access to microscopy facilities.


We also use a bioinformatics approach to study the factors involved in plant- bacteria interaction. We are presently developing novel bioinformatics tools to analyze and annotate the genome of bacterial species which normally develop different type of interactions with plants (namely, pathogenicity, symbiosis and the ability of living endophytically or in the rhizosphere).





The piFaT’s goal (Plant interaction factor annotation tool) is to identify bacterial genes potentially involved in plant interactions (pifs), such as virulence, symbiosis or rhizospheric factors, from a given genome though sequence similarity (Blast) and domain identification (HMMER). To do that, we are constructing a pifs database (PLANTPROK) based on thorough scrutiny of the scientific bibliography.

Other research lines:
  • Genomics and molecular biology of bacterial pathogens of woody hosts (in collaboration with Dr. Cayo Ramos. University of Málaga. Spain).


We collaborate with Dr. Cayo Ramos´s group in Universidad de Málaga in studying the differential features that enable bacterial pathogens to attack woody host. In the context of this collaboration we have performed the annotation and bioinformatics analysis of the Pseudomonas savastanoi pv. savastanoi NCPPB 3335 genome, a tumour-inducing pathogen of olive tree. The genome sequence has open new research lines on the effector repertoire of this bacterium.


  • Natural variability of field isolates of bacterial pathogens.

We are also interested in analyzing the strains causing diseases in field conditions. The goal is to study the genetic variability of filed isolates. Our group has been involved in this type of analysis in Brenneria sp. and Dickeya sp. from different geographical origins.


Representative Publications

Santamaría-Hernando, S; Rodríguez-Herva, JJ; Martínez-García, PM; Río-Álvarez, I; González-Melendi, P; Zamorano, J; Tapia, C; Rodríguez-Palenzuela, P; López-Solanilla, E. 2018. "Pseudomonas syringae pv. tomato exploits light signals to optimize virulence and colonization of leaves". Environmental Microbiology. DOI: 10.1111/1462-2920.14331".

Castañeda-Ojeda, MP; Moreno-Pérez, A; Ramos, C; López-Solanilla, E. 2017. "Suppression of Plant Immune Responses by the Pseudomonas savastanoi pv. savastanoi NCPPB 3335 Type III Effector Tyrosine Phosphatases HopAO1 and HopAO2". Frontiers in Plant Science. DOI: 10.3389/fpls.2017.00680".

Bardaji, L; Echeverria, M; Rodriguez-Palenzuela, P; Martinez-Garcia, PM; Murillo, J. 2017. "Four genes essential for recombination define GInts, a new type of mobile genomic island widespread in bacteria". Scientific Reports. DOI: 10.1038/srep46254".

Martínez-García, PM; López-Solanilla, E; Ramos, C; Rodríguez-Palenzuela, P. 2016. "Prediction of bacterial associations with plants using a supervised machine-learning approach". Environmental Microbiology. DOI: 10.1111/1462-2920.13389".

Castañeda-Ojeda, MP; López-Solanilla, E; Ramos, C. 2017. "Differential modulation of plant immune responses by diverse members of the Pseudomonas savastanoi pv. savastanoi HopAF type III effector family". Molecular Plant Pathology. DOI: 10.1111/mpp.12420".

Pérez-Bueno, ML; Granum, E; Pineda, M; Flors, V; Rodriguez-Palenzuela, P; López-Solanilla, E; Barón, M. 2016. "Temporal and spatial resolution of activated plant defense responses in leaves of Nicotiana benthamiana infected with Dickeya dadantii". Frontiers in Plant Science. DOI: 10.3389/fpls.2015.01209".

Martín-Lammerding, D; Navas, M; Albarrán, MdM; Tenorio, JL; Walter, I. 2015. "LONG term management systems under semiarid conditions: Influence on labile organic matter, β-glucosidase activity and microbial efficiency". Applied Soil Ecology. DOI: 10.1016/j.apsoil.2015.08.021".

Martinez-Garcia, PM; Ramos, C; Rodriguez-Palenzuela, P. 2015. "T346Hunter: a novel web-based tool for the prediction of type III, type IV and type VI secretion systems in bacterial genomes". PLoS One. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0119317".

Magno-Pérez, C; Martínez-García, PM; Hierrezuelo, J; Rodriquez-Palenzuela, P; Arrebola, E; Ramos, C; de Vicente, A; Pérez-García, A; Romero, DF. 2015. "Comparative genomics within the Bacillus genus reveal the singularities of two robust Bacillus amyloliquefaciens biocontrol strains". Molecular Plant-Microbe Interactions. DOI: 10.1094/MPMI-02-15-0023-R".

Río-Álvarez, I; Muñoz-Gómez, C; Navas-Vásquez, M; García-Martínez, PM; Antúnez-Lamas, M; Rodríguez-Palenzuela, P; López-Solanilla, E. 2014. "Role of Dickeya dadantii 3937 chemoreceptors in the entry to Arabidopsis leaves through wounds". Molecular Plant Pathology. DOI: 10.1111/mpp.12227".

Tellez-Rio, A; García-Marco, S; Navas, M; López-Solanilla, E; Rees, RM; Tenorio, JL; Vallejo, A. 2015. "Nitrous oxide and methane emissions from a vetch cropping season are changed by long-term tillage practices in a Mediterranean agroecosystem". Biology and Fertility of Soils. DOI: 10.1007/s00374-014-0952-5".

Martínez-García, PM; Ruano-Rosa, D; Schilirò, E; Prieto, P; Ramos, C; Rodríguez-Palenzuela, P; Mercado-Blanco, J. 2015. "Complete genome sequence of Pseudomonas fluorescens strain PICF7, an indigenous root endophyte from olive (Olea europaea L.) and effective biocontrol agent against Verticillium dahliae". Standards in Genomic Sciences. DOI: 10.1186/1944-3277-10-10".

Tellez-Rio, A; García-Marco, S; Navas, M; López-Solanilla, E; Tenorio, JL; Vallejo, A. 2015. "N2O and CH4 emissions from a fallow–wheat rotation with low N input in conservation and conventional tillage under a Mediterranean agroecosystem". Science of the Total Environment. DOI: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2014.11.041".

Taurino, M; Abelenda, JA; Río-Alvarez, I; Navarro, C; Vicedo, B; Farmaki, T; Jiménez, P; García-Agustín, P; López-Solanilla, E; Prat, S; Rojo, E; Sánchez-Serrano, JJ; Sanmartín, M. 2014. "Jasmonate-dependent modifications of the pectin matrix during potato development function as a defense mechanism targeted by Dickeya dadantii virulence factors". Plant Journal. DOI: 10.1111/tpj.12393".

Río-Álvarez, I; Rodríguez-Herva, JJ; Martínez, PM; González-Melendi, P; García-Casado, G; Rodríguez-Palenzuela, P; López-Solanilla, E. 2014. "Light regulates motility, attachment and virulence in the plant pathogen Pseudomonas syringae pv tomato DC3000". Environmental Microbiology. DOI: 10.1111/1462-2920.12240".

Putker, F; Tommassen-van Boxtel, R; Stork, M; Rodríguez-Herva, JJ; Koster, M; Tommassen, J. 2013. "The type II secretion system (Xcp) of Pseudomonas putida is active and involved in the secretion of phosphatases". Environmental Microbiology. DOI: 10.1111/1462-2920.12115".

Rio-Alvarez I, Rodríguez-Herva JJ, Cuartas-Lanza R, Toth I, Pritchard L, Rodriquez-Palenzuela P, Lopez-Solanilla E. Abril-2012. "Genome-wide analysis of the response of Dickeya dadantii 3937 to plant antimicrobial peptides." Mol Plant Microbe Interact. 25(4):523-533.

Rodríguez-Herva, J. J., González-Melendi, P., Cuartas-Lanza, R., Antúnez-Lamas, M., Río-Alvarez, I., Li, Z., López-Torrejón, G., Díaz, I., del Pozo, J. C., Chakravarty, S., Collmer, A., Rodríguez-Palenzuela, P. y López-Solanilla, E. 2012. "A bacterial cysteine protease effector protein interferes with photosynthesis to suppress plant innate immune responses." Cellular Microbiology. 14(5):669-681.

Charkowski A, Blanco C, Condemine G, Expert D, Franza T, Hayes C, Hugouvieux-Cotte-Pattat N, López Solanilla E, Low D, Moleleki L, Pirhonen M, Pitman A, Perna N, Reverchon S, Rodríguez Palenzuela P, San Francisco M, Toth I, Tsuyumu S, van der Waals J, van der Wolf J, Van Gijsegem F, Yang CH, Yedidia I. 2012. The role of secretion systems and small molecules in soft-rot enterobacteriaceae pathogenicity. Annu Rev. Phytopathol. 2012 50:425-49.

Centre for Plant Biotechnology and Genomics UPM – INIA Parque Científico y Tecnológico de la U.P.M. Campus de Montegancedo
Autopista M-40, Km 38 - 28223 Pozuelo de Alarcón (Madrid) Tel.: +34 91 4524900 ext. 1806 / +34 91 3364539 Fax: +34 91 7157721. Location and Contact

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