The main research topics of the laboratory can be divided into 3 groups:
Hormonal signaling and abiotic stress
Plant responses to osmotic stress is an important research topic in plant biology, particularly due to the strong impact of global warming in agriculture. In response to osmotic stress, such as drought or salt, the root is the first tissue that detects this new stress condition. The architecture of the root is then modulated. Therefore, there are changes in the root length, lateral roots density and the size of the root meristem. Although abiotic stress is mainly linked to ABA signaling, in the laboratory we are focused on changes in root architecture that could be orchestrated by hormones controlling plant development such as auxin and cytokinin.
The cell wall and oxidative burst in stress responses
Taking advantage of the toxic properties of reactive oxygen species (ROS) to deal with pathogenic infections could be considered a great evolutionary success. Plants have the ability to regulate ROS levels since they are toxic compounds for the cell. There are various enzymes and mechanisms to maintain low levels of ROS. On the other hand, under stress conditions, ROS levels increase significantly, which is known as the oxidative burst. This peak of ROS has among its functions to act as a second messenger and thus trigger down-stream stress responses. In the lab we are focused on studying the different components of the cell wall and more specifically the peroxidases present in the cell wall and characterizing their role under stress conditions.
In relation to biotechnological applications, we are mainly focused on Solanum lycopersicum and on the modulation of the root architecture. Therefore, we are generating and characterizing tomato lines with altered expression of different genes related to hormonal signaling and stress responses.