Group leader: Luis Gómez Fernández - Professor

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Line 1. Improving stress tolerance in forest trees.

Drought, non-optimal temperatures and other abiotic stresses typical of temperate regions cause important losses in the forest sector. We use a multidisciplinary approach to characterize relevant mechanisms for stress tolerance in trees and to define better the function of major proteins. Some of the most prominent stress-induced components belong to the small heat shock protein (sHSP) family. Over the past few years we have studied these and other protective proteins in economically relevant trees, such as walnut, oak, chestnut, poplar and peach. Through bacterial and/or plant transformation (arabidopsis, poplar), important roles in stress protection have been found for sHSPs, dehydrins, and several enzymes. Novel functions have been documented for some of these proteins, including a role for cytosolic class I sHSPs in cold acclimation and protein cryoprotection. This information is being used to improve plant performance through genetic engineering.

Line 2. Metabolic engineering / Phytoremediation.

Environmental pollution is a first-rate problem. Phytoremediation has emerged in recent years as an interesting alternative to traditional methods for the clean-up of contaminated soils and groundwater. A proteomic approach is being used to detect polypeptides involved in the uptake, accumulation and/or degradation of relevant xenobiotics, such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), dioxins and other organochlorines. cDNA libraries are also being constructed to isolate and characterize relevant nucleotide sequences. Poplar was chosen as a potential source of genes because it shows a remarkable ability to metabolize certain chlorinated solvents. Moreover, its genome has been fully sequenced. A pathway for biphenyl degradation is currently under completion that has not been reported before in eukaryotes. The long-term goal is to improve the ability of plants for environmental clean-up.

Line 3. Molecular markers.

Molecular markers are being developed in walnut, chestnut and other tree species to characterize local varieties of economic importance. Variation at the molecular level is being correlated in some instances with phenotypic traits of interest for breeding schemes. In any case, improving the identification and monitoring of specific genotypes is a critical need of the forest sector. We use mainly microsatellites (single sequence repeats) for this purpose.





Representative Publications

Licea-Moreno, RJ; Contreras, A; Morales, AV; Urban, I; Daquinta, M; Gomez, L. 2015. "Improved walnut mass micropropagation through the combined use of phloroglucinol and FeEDDHA". Plant Cell, Tissue and Organ Culture. DOI: 10.1007/s11240-015-0822-3".

Bolonio, D; Llamas, A; Rodríguez-Fernández, J; Al-Lal, AM; Canoira, L; Lapuerta, M; Gómez, L. 2015. "Estimation of cold flow performance and oxidation stability of fatty acid ethyl esters from lipids obtained from Escherichia coli". Energy & Fuels. DOI: 10.1021/acs.energyfuels.5b00141".

Merino, I; Contreras, A; Jing, Z-P; Gallardo, F; Cánovas, FM; Gómez, L. 2014. "Plantation forestry under global warming: hybrid poplars with improved thermotolerance provide new insights on the in vivo function of small heat shock protein chaperones". Plant Physiology. DOI: 10.1104/pp.113.225730".


Centro de Biotecnología y Genómica de Plantas 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. Contacto

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