Plants are a primary source of nutrients, chemicals, and materials for humans. Our program aims to generate fundamental knowledge on plant physiology and metabolism and to use this knowledge to improve crops through plant synthetic and metabolic engineering approaches. We are interested in deciphering the control of primary and secondary metabolism for the production of high-quality bioproducts and the enhancement of plant performance and yield. Furthermore, by using a synthetic biology framework, we aim to contribute to the advancement of basic plant research and provide novel biotechnological tools.

In particular, our Program addresses the study of the regulation of isoprenoid and lignin biosynthetic pathways, the organization of the cell endomembrane system, the fixation of carbon through photosynthesis, and the development of microalgae as a bioengineering and synthetic biology platform. These pathways and processes impact yield, fruit and seed quality, nutritional content, digestibility, bioenergetic value, and tolerance to biotic and abiotic stress. Our work aims to develop technologies to reprogram plant cells, including the design of genetic circuits for fine tuning gene expression, the design of novel metabolic pathways, and the use of plant cells as biofactories to express molecules of therapeutic interest.

The experimental approaches emerge from the biochemistry, genetics, molecular, and cell biology fields, and include advanced plant/microalgae system methodologies with transcriptomic, proteomic and metabolomic analyses. A substantial part of the research activities is performed in well-established models (Marchantia or Arabidopsis), crop plants (tomato, rice, and maize), and microalgae (Chlamydomonas and Chlorella).


Milito A.; Aschern M.; Mcquillan J.L.; Yang J.-S.

Challenges and advances towards the rational design of microalgal synthetic promoters in Chlamydomonas reinhardtii (2023) Journal of Experimental Botany, vol. 74 (13), pp. 3833 -3850 (DOI:10.1093/jxb/erad100)

Borba A.R.; Reyna-Llorens I.; Dickinson P.J.; Steed G.; Gouveia P.; Górska A.M.; Gomes C.; Kromdijk J.; Webb A.A.R.; Saibo N.J.M.; Hibberd J.M.

Compartmentation of photosynthesis gene expression in C4 maize depends on time of day (2023) Plant Physiology, vol. 193 (4), pp. 2306 -2320 (DOI:10.1093/plphys/kiad447)

Cisneros A.E.; Lisón P.; Campos L.; López-Tubau J.M.; Altabella T.; Ferrer A.; Daròs J.-A.; Carbonell A.

Down-regulation of tomato STEROL GLYCOSYLTRANSFERASE 1 perturbs plant development and facilitates viroid infection (2023) Journal of Experimental Botany, vol. 74 (5), pp. 1564 -1578 (DOI:10.1093/jxb/erac361)

Castaño-Miquel L.; Lois L.M.

Kinetic Analysis of Plant SUMO Conjugation Machinery (2023) Methods in Molecular Biology, vol. 2581 pp. 93 -108 (DOI:10.1007/978-1-0716-2784-6_8)

Reyna-Llorens I.; Ferro-Costa M.; Burgess S.J.

Plant protoplasts in the age of synthetic biology (2023) Journal of Experimental Botany, vol. 74 (13), pp. 3821 -3832 (DOI:10.1093/jxb/erad172)