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Molecular regulation of chloroplast metabolism

Our group works on the regulation of metabolism in chloroplasts (and also in bacteria, their evolutionary ancestors). The major focus of our research is the biosynthesis of isoprenoids, one of the main groups of plant natural products. All isoprenoids, including many compounds with interest as nutrients, pigments, drugs, or biofuels, derive from prenyl diphosphates whose production is uniquely compartmentalized in plant cells. In chloroplasts, these precursors are synthesized by the MEP pathway.

We are using forward and reverse genetic as well as biochemical approaches to understand how plants regulate the metabolic flux through the MEP pathway and the cross-talk with downstream pathways for the production of isoprenoid end-products like carotenoids.

Carotenoids are plastidial isoprenoids that contribute to light harvesting, protect the photosynthetic apparatus against excess light, and color non-photosynthetic tissues of many flowers and fruits. Carotenoid-derived products include plant growth regulators such as abscisic acid and strigolactones. The economic interest of carotenoids is mainly based on their use as natural pigments but they are also important as vitamin A precursors and health-promoting phytonutrients. However, our limited knowledge on the molecular mechanisms that regulate plant carotenogenesis is still a major drawback for the generation of new carotenoid-enriched plant varieties. Our current work is unveiling some of these regulatory mechanisms in Arabidopsis and translating the knowledge to crops like tomato, carrot, and melon.

Selected Publications

Llamas, E., Pulido, P., Rodríguez-Concepción, M. (2017) 

Interference with plastome gene expression and Clp protease activity in Arabidopsis triggers a chloroplast unfolded protein response to restore protein homeostasis.

PLOS Genet. 13: e1007022 


Llorente, B., Martinez-García, J.F., Stange, C., Rodríguez-Concepción, M. (2017) 

Illuminating colors: regulation of carotenoid biosynthesis and accumulation by light.

Curr. Opin. Plant Biol. 37: 49-55 


Garcia-Mas, J., Rodríguez-Concepción, M. (2016) 

The carrot genome sequence brings colors out of the dark.

Nature Genetics 48: 589-590 


Pulido, P., Llamas, E., Llorente, B., Ventura, S., Wright, L.P., Rodríguez-Concepción, M. (2016)

Specific Hsp100 Chaperones Determine the Fate of the First Enzyme of the Plastidial Isoprenoid Pathway for Either Refolding or Degradation by the Stromal Clp Protease in Arabidopsis.

PLOS Genet. 6: 19036.


Rodríguez-Concepción, M., Boronat, A. (2015)

Breaking new ground in the regulation of the early steps of plant isoprenoid biosynthesis.

Curr. Opin. Plant Biol. 25: 17–22.


Pulido P, Toledo-Ortiz G, Phillips MA, Wright LP, Rodríguez-Concepción M. (2013) 

Arabidopsis J-Protein J20 Delivers the First Enzyme of the Plastidial Isoprenoid Pathway to Protein Quality Control

Plant Cell. 2013  25:4183–4194. SEBBM PAPER OF THE MONTH.


Sangari FJ, Pérez-Gil J, Carretero-Paulet L, García-Lobo JM, Rodríguez-Concepción M. (2010) 

A new family of enzymes catalyzing the first committed step of the methylerythritol 4-phosphate (MEP) pathway for isoprenoid biosynthesis in bacteria

Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 107: 14081-14086. COVER. 


Toledo-Ortiz G, Huq E, Rodríguez-Concepción M. (2010) 

Direct regulation of phytoene synthase gene expression and carotenoid biosynthesis by phytochrome-interacting factors

Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 107: 11626-11631. COVER. 


Gas E, Flores-Pérez U, Sauret-Güeto S, Rodríguez-Concepción M. (2009) 

Hunting for plant nitric oxide synthase provides new evidence of a central role for plastids in nitric oxide metabolism

Plant Cell21: 18-23.


Phillips MA, León P, Boronat A, Rodríguez-Concepción M. (2008) 

The plastidial MEP pathway: unified nomenclature and resources

Trends Plant Sci. 13: 619-623.


Flores-Pérez U, Sauret-Güeto S, Gas E, Jarvis P, Rodríguez-Concepción M. (2008) 

A mutant impaired in the production of plastome-encoded proteins uncovers a mechanism for the homeostasis of isoprenoid biosynthetic enzymes in Arabidopsis plastids

Plant Cell 20:1303-1315. COVER.