Soil Microbiology and Symbiotic Systems

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The overall goal of this Department is to obtain basic knowledge on the ecology, physiology, biochemistry, molecular biology and biotechnology of soil microbes (bacteria and fungi) of interest in forestry and agricultural systems.

Particular emphasis is put on Rhizobeaceae and the Rhizobium-leguminosae symbiotic interactions, as well as on arbuscular mycorrhizas in relation to the mechanisms of tolerance against biotic and abiotic stresses and the revegetation of eroded Mediterranean soils. Studies on interactions of saprophytic microorganisms in the rhizosphere and their role in plant nutrition, as well as studies on the recycling of wastes by microorganisms are also being considered. The Department is also involved in studies on biological and functional diversity in rhizosphere microorganisms, and developing molecular tools of interest for rhizosphere biotechnology. The assessment of the biosecurity of inoculants in sustainable agronomic practices is also considered.

Research Groups:

Lines of Research:

  • Ecology (analysis of genetic and functional diversity), physiology, biochemistry, molecular biology and biotechnology of soil microorganisms of interest in agricultural and forestal systems, with special reference to Rhizobium and arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi.
  • Molecular mechanisms of the interactions between mutualistic microbes and plants: recognition, defence mechanisms, induction of resistance and functional integration (mainly in reference to Rhizobium and arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi).
  • Functional genomics of microorganisms and plants: rhizosphere colonization and RNA regulators. Use of Group II introns as a highly-efficient mutagenic system. Genomic analysis of soil microbe communities (metagenomics).
  • Use of microorganisms as biofertilizers or bioprotectants (against pathogens, contaminants or osmotic stress) in fruit and vegetable cultivars and their use in the revegetation and recovery of degraded areas.
  • Risk assessment of the environmental release of inoculants especially when they are based on the use of genetically-modified microorganisms.
  • Use of microorganisms for recycling of agro-industrial residues.