Environmental control of plant and algae growth

Group Leaders
Elena Monte
CSIC Scientist


Research in the Monte lab is focused on how plants and algae adapt to changing light environments. Our long-term goal is to understand how photosynthetic organisms thrive under the wide dynamic range of light conditions they face in nature. We use Arabidopsis, rice and Chlamydomonas and an array of classic and advanced experimental approaches to investigate the fundamental mechanisms governing light-regulated development and growth. 

Early responses to light 

We employ seedling deetiolation to understand early development in response to light after germination in the underground darkness or in alternating night/day conditions. We have taken different approaches to identify novel regulators of deetiolation, and we are investigating how they function in the control of organ-and cell-specific growth. 

Integration of light with other cues 

Our studies on the integration of light and circadian clock signals have identified novel convergence molecular mechanisms to time daily growth. Our goal is to understand how light interacts with other internal and environmental cues to optimize growth in changing light conditions. 

Chloroplast-to-nucleus retrograde signal

Under stressful high light conditions, retrograde signals provide protection against photo-oxidative damage. We discovered that this inter-organellar communication blocks light-induced transcriptional networks to modify development and minimize exposure to deleterious radiation. Our aim is to discover the genetic mechanisms underlying the retrograde signaling induction of adaptation to high light stress.

Selected Publications

Martín, G., Rovira, A., Veciana, N., Soy, J., Toledo-Ortiz, G., Gommers, C.M.M., Boix, M., Henriques, R., Minguet, E.G., Alabadí, D., Halliday, K.J., Leivar, P., Monte, E.
Circadian Waves of Transcriptional Repression Shape PIF-Regulated Photoperiod-Responsive Growth in Arabidopsis
(2018) Current Biology, vol. 28 (2), pp. 311-318.e5

Gommers, C.M.M., Monte, E.
Seedling establishment: A dimmer switch-regulated process between dark and light signaling
(2018) Plant Physiology, vol. 176 (2), pp. 1061-1074

Martin, G., Leivar, P., Ludevid, D., Tepperman, J.M., Quail, P.H., Monte, E.
Phytochrome and retrograde signalling pathways converge to antagonistically regulate a light-induced transcriptional network
(2016) Nature Communications, vol. 7, Art. number 11431

Soy, J., Leivar, P., González-Schain, N., Martín, G., Diaz, C., Sentandreu, M., Al-Sady, B., Quail, P.H., Monte, E.
Molecular convergence of clock and photosensory pathways through PIF3-TOC1 interaction and co-occupancy of target promoters
(2016) Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, vol. 113 (17), pp. 4870-4875

Martín, G., Soy, J., Monte, E.
Genomic analysis reveals contrasting PIFq contribution to diurnal rhythmic gene expression in PIF-induced and -repressed genes
(2016) Frontiers in Plant Science, vol. 7 (JULY2016), Art. number 962

Leivar, P., Monte, E.
PIFs: Systems integrators in plant development
(2014) Plant Cell, vol. 26 (1), pp. 56-78

Soy, J., Leivar, P., Monte, E.
PIF1 promotes phytochrome-regulated growth under photoperiodic conditions in Arabidopsis together with PIF3, PIF4, and PIF5
(2014) Journal of Experimental Botany, vol. 65 (11), pp. 2925-2936

Soy, J., Leivar, P., González-Schain, N., Sentandreu, M., Prat, S., Quail, P.H., Monte, E.
Phytochrome-imposed oscillations in PIF3 protein abundance regulate hypocotyl growth under diurnal light/dark conditions in Arabidopsis
(2012) Plant Journal, vol. 71 (3), pp. 390-401

Sentandreu, M., Martín, G., González-Schain, N., Leivar, P., Soy, J., Tepperman, J.M., Quail, P.H., Monte, E.
Functional profiling identifies genes involved in organ-specific branches of the PIF3 regulatory network in Arabidopsis
(2011) Plant Cell, vol. 23 (11), pp. 3974-3991

Leivar, P*., Monte, E.*, Al-Sady, B., Carle, C., Storer, A., Alonso, J.M., Ecker, J.R., Quail, P.H. (*co-first authors)
The Arabidopsis phytochrome-interacting factor PIF7, together with PIF3 and PIF4, regulates responses to prolonged red light by modulating phyB levels 
(2008) Plant Cell, vol. 20 (2), pp. 337-352

Monte, E., Tepperman, J.M., Al-Sady, B., Kaczorowski, K.A., Alonso, J.M., Ecker, J.R., Li, X., Zhang, Y., Quail, P.H.
The phytochrome-interacting transcription factor, PIF3, acts early, selectively, and positively in light-induced chloroplast development
(2004) PNAS, vol. 101 (46), pp. 16091-16098

Amador V*, Monte E*, Garcı́a-Martı́nez JL, Prat S (*co-first authors)
Gibberellins signal nuclear import of PHOR1, a photoperiod-responsive protein with homology to Drosophila armadillo
(2001) Cell 106:343-354.